BOB TASCA III TAKES NO. 1 FC QUALIFYING SPOT IN PHOENIX
During the offseason, Bob Tasca III brought in new co-crew chiefs with veterans Todd Okuhara and Aaron Brooks for his nitro Funny Car.
The move is paying early dividends as Tasca clocked a 3.898-second run at 329.50 mph in Q3 Saturday to take the No. 1 qualifying spot at the Arizona Nationals near Phoenix, the second race of the NHRA season.
Saturday’s top run was Tasca’s 10th career No. 1 qualifying position in nitro Funny Car and his first since he was atop the qualifying ladder in consecutive races last year in Seattle and Topeka, Kan.
“It was great, especially when you get the bye first round,” Tasca said. “It is just hat’s off to Todd and Aaron and the whole team. They are very different than anyone I have ever raced with. You saw all the cars struggling, and they don’t care what anyone else runs; they just focus on what they believe we can run.
“They have a very aggressive mindset. Track conditions were certainly good enough to run .80s. They made some adjustments from the 80s we were running in Gainesville (the first race of the season) because the track is clearly not as good, particularly since there are some bumps just by the transition as a driver, I was talking to Matt Hagan, and the car comes off the grand two, three inches and you’re turning the steering wheel to try and keep it in the center of the groove. I think some of it; you saw some drivers get out of the center of the groove. Then you make it even more challenging to get down this racetrack. Hat’s off to the guys. I love the aggressive mindset of this team. I think it is going to pay big dividends as the season unfolds. Clearly, starting off in the No. 1 spot is a good place to be Sunday morning.”
Tasca has had plenty of success the past two seasons winning three races each in 2021 and 2022 and finishing third and fourth in the points standings. He wants to continue that run of success, starting the season off stronger than he had the past two seasons.
“That was my complete focus on putting this team together is emphasizing what we do in the first five races,” Tasca said. “The cars that run really good in the first five races, I’m going to put a lot of money on those cars the last five races. Because you can’t test and practice in the summer for the fall. The only time you can test for the fall is in the spring. Todd and Aaron, I made it a point I said, 'fellas, you can look at the data."
"Quite frankly, they pretty much threw my set up out the window, so I had a little anxiety in the offseason when they were telling me the things they were going to take off my car, but hat’s off to them.
“They may be somewhat rookies in Funny Car, obviously they have more experience in dragsters than they do in Funny Cars of late; they understand these machines. They have really come together, and the dialogue, most times if you go into these trailers, one crew chief talks and the other listens. The dialogue between the two is what I was really hoping for, and they have delivered. I love watching them work together. I love watching them work on the car. You don’t see a lot of crew chiefs working on the car, but these guys are working on the car and paying attention to the details, and you can see the performance on the racetrack. (Saturday night) it went A to B, and it was on a string.”
Tasca did take a moment to discuss the fact this is the final national event at the Arizona Nationals.
“For me to see that sellout crowd (Saturday) is bittersweet,” he said. “I love racing here. To see a sellout crowd and people with the last pass T-Shirts on, maybe someone from Wild Horse is listening or watching, but please don’t go away. Someone said there was a road coming through, and the road got canceled. This is an iconic place; I think 38 years we have been coming here. This is where I got licensed; there are so many great memories in Phoenix. To see the fans come out and support us, it is bittersweet. I’m brokenhearted to know that this is going to be the last race.”