TASCA SETS CAREER BESTS IN PACING FIELD FRIDAY IN DALLAS
When it comes to winning a championship, it’s the little points that matter.
One year after watching Ron Capps earn the NHRA Funny Car championship by a meager three points over Robert Hight, Bob Tasca realized that if he ever wanted to realistically challenge for a title of his own, he was going to have to savor those little points.
And this postseason, no one has earned more bonus points than Tasca, the driver of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang.
With two pole positions and a third-place start already on his 2023 Countdown resume, Tasca again pocketed the maximum number of qualifying bonus points Friday, pacing both qualifying sessions and earning the provisional top qualifier award Friday at the Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex.
“I wouldn’t be in first place if it wasn’t for how we qualified,” Tasca said. “If you add up my qualifying points versus the three guys behind me, I’m not in first place right now without it. It has been a big part of our strategy. It is how Aaron (Brooks) and Todd (Okuhara) are wired. You have to try to run low E.T., it is not just going to happen and those guys try really hard. They push the car to the limits and you see it in how it performs. The small points are going to decide the championship, and right now every qualifying round for us is very important.”
Tasca outran the field Friday with the quickest and fastest pass of his career -- and the quickest pass in a Funny Car since Pomona in 2018. Tasca’s 3.822-second lap at 335.55 mph in his Ford Mustang easily bettered Matt Hagan’s 3.848 at 319.24 mph, which placed the Dodge driver in second.
“What’s so impressive is the first run Aaron and Todd said we are going to run an 87 and we ran an 87,” Tasca recalled. “Then we saw Hagan run an 84 and Aaron stuck his head in and I said, ‘What do you got in it?’ And he said, ‘It should run an 82.’ I smiled because when those guys say they are trying to run an 82, they are trying to run an 82. We ran an 83 in Charlotte and we actually had a hole out on that run, so we knew if we could keep the fuel curve right and keep all the holes lit we could run 82.
“The car was dead smooth. I got back in the pit and I said, ‘Fellas, when you look at that run you are going to say there is more in it.’ The hardest part of that run is it hiked the front end up around 800 feet and it got a little bit to the inside, and I had half a steering wheel turn in it and I said, ‘Please just hang on and don’t get near the centerline.’”
Ron Capps was third on Friday with a 3.851 at 333.95 mph, while John Force (3.871) and Robert Hight (3.879) rounded out the top five.
Tasca was also quickest in the first qualifying session with a 3.874, collecting maximum qualifying points on Day One in Dallas.
“That is an exciting run playing hardball against the best of the best with Robert and Hagan and Capps and Force and those guys running 80s left and right,” Tasca said. “But that is what it is going to take to come out here and win a championship. You have to go toe to toe with them -- not one or two races, but every race in the Countdown and to this point we have done that. Now we have to get our setup ready for tomorrow because tomorrow is going to be similar conditions to Sunday.”
Extending his points lead ever so slightly, Tasca is poised to earn more bonus markers Saturday, but he admits that he is already looking ahead to Sunday as well. With one win already in the Countdown, Tasca knows that one slip can cost a driver the championship and right now Tasca is banking on his consistency with three elimination days left in the season.
“Dallas is a make or break for all four of us now,” Tasca said. “If you go out early here you are digging a hole. There is no fun place to be in this deal. You just have to go out and swing as hard as you can swing and the chips will fall where they may. I think the cars that have a real shot at this thing are the ones that can show consistency and that is something we have been able to do these last six or seven races.”