Bob Tasca III has had a decent 2024 season in NHRA’s nitro Funny Car class.

He arrived at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals in Richmond, Va., this weekend fifth in the season points standings on the strength of his win at the Four Wide Nationals in Las Vegas April 14.

Tasca got his weekend off on the right foot in Richmond as he ended up in the No. 1 spot with his 4.024-second run at 320.74 in Q3. This was Tasca’s first No. 1 qualifier of the season and the 17th of his career.

“I was pretty pissed off leaving Bristol (Tenn., June 9), I can tell you that much. That's not how our team should be running,” said Tasca, who lost in the second round there to Matt Hagan. “Since winning Las Vegas, we just fell off as the tracks got warmer. I tried to put a V6 in it between then and now. Didn't have enough time to figure that out. So, we went to the junk pile and that's no BS. We just grabbed heads out of a junk pile that we weren't going to run. We put a blower on the car that we literally couldn't sell this offseason. It was just garbage. And that's what I told him to do. I said, ‘Just go put the worst parts we own on the race car because you can't fix it with clutch.’ The car makes too much power with the 341-mph setup.”

Still, Tasca, who pilots a Mustang, acknowledged his 341-mph run at the non-NHRA sanctioned PRO Superstar Shootout in Bradenton, Fla., in February, didn’t lead to consistency.

“We couldn't tame it. They just couldn't do it. I mean, there's not lack of effort. They worked really hard trying to do it. It was just too unpredictable,” Tasca said. “It would smoke the tires when it shouldn't. I don't know, maybe we pulled 2,000 horsepower away from it. I have no idea how much we did, but clearly, they made the right call. So, hats off to (co-crew chiefs Todd (Okuhara) and Aaron (Brooks). They worked really hard this last week off to put a package together that was totally different than anything we've run. And it just went down the racetrack, and that's what we needed to do and that's what you're going to need to do to survive.

“I've always said the season's three parts: The guys that can throw down early, which clearly, we did; the guys that can survive the summer, and I don't want to survive it, I want to thrive in it; and then you've got to throw it down again in the fall. And clearly, we have the combination, but this is the hottest racetrack that I've ever been down in my life, and we just ran 320 miles per hour on it with the worst parts that I own. So, I'm pretty happy.”

Tasca faces Dave Richards in Round One on Sunday. He has lost in the second round in three consecutive races (Chicago, Epping, N.H., and Bristol).

The veteran Tasca, who began racing full-time in the nitro Funny Car class in 2008, realizes the importance of his team finding its groove in the heat of the summer.

“It's absolutely critical. I mean, I couldn't stand it leaving Bristol,” he said. “I was out of my mind. We just didn't have a car that could make, never mind three runs in a row, couldn't make two runs in a row. We made three runs in a row. He could have taken that car down a dirt track. We weren't trying to run; we just were trying to run like a 4.02 or 4.03. I thought that someone would run a (3)98. I thought it was good enough to run a 98. I think we could have run a 98 if we had another shot at it. But that's the kind of setup you need for the next five races to go try to knock down a couple of wins, which clearly, we're focused on doing.

“Then conditions will get good again. And trust me, I'm not throwing away any of those parts. I know how to put that combination back together again. But I'm happy with the decision making. It goes to show, I guess, the character of this team. We're not going to accept mediocrity at any level. If we went backwards this weekend, I was OK with it, but I wasn't coming here with the same setup that we've been running the last couple of races.”

After three nearly identical runs Saturday Tasca likes where his team is heading into race day.

“You can't see the data, but if you could see it, it was absolutely like glass. It made me laugh,” Tasca said. “I was ready to make a hands-free cellphone call. I want to see if we can put it in the car because it's so slow. It's hard to explain. It's like, are you kidding? Are we going to get there today? But that's what you have to do out here to go there and run strong. But the difference between a 4.02 and a 3.82 is … I can't even explain. It's an out-of-body experience difference. I can't even explain the difference. It's that much difference in the car, the compression, the G-force, the acceleration rate.”

Tasca, who has 16 career NHRA nitro Funny Car wins, is looking for his first victory in Richmond.

“First, I love the format,” said Tasca about the three qualifying sessions in one day. “I mean, I felt bad for the fans. I mean, this place was packed Q1 and then it got real, real hot all day. But you saw pro cars on the track all day long, action packed. The teams were pumped up. I think E1 will be very similar to what we just saw (Saturday evening). And then the run Q2 is going to be like E2, and E3. I mean you're going to see potentially 150-degree track. I think the format is awesome. I think it gives us some bandwidth through the day to compare to what we're going to do on Sunday. I don't think it's right for all markets, but I think there's a lot of markets that should take notice of what we did because we gave the fans more nitro racing. It's a little bit more condensed than the three-day race. So, I'm hopeful that this actually gets some traction to some other races.”

As for Sunday, Tasca said there’s no secret sauce to be holding a Wally by the end of the day.

“I think to bring home a win, you got to go down the racetrack, and you saw we got the fastest car in the world,” Tasca said. “We didn't do so hot the last three races. If you don't go down the racetrack, you're going to lose. Anyone out here's going to beat you. So, you have to go down the racetrack. You have to have good decision making, but it makes it a whole lot easier to make those decisions show when you have a day like you had today, because we can fall back on a baseline. We look at tire temperature, so we know was it on the edge? Was it not on the edge? Can we push? Can we not push? You have to pick your moments depending on who you're racing, you're going to push or you're going to go down the racetrack. And Todd and Aaron know how to do that, and I'm just happy for them. They've made a lot of big changes. It could have backfired on 'em, it didn't. We made a statement out here in the heat and now we got to do it” Sunday.