INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 5, 2011 – Bob Tasca III isn’t one to take no for an answer. So when he came to the U.S. Nationals hanging on to the last spot in the playoff field, he wasn’t worried about keeping his place. Instead, he had his eye a few places higher in the point standings and wondered how high he would climb.
Climb he did.
Despite losing three engines, Tasca and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team powered through the weekend, plowing down obstacles as they went. At stake was that last coveted spot in the playoffs, the one they had going in. Making that top 10 field was crucial in keeping the dream for an NHRA Full Throttle Series world championship title alive – and another driver, Johnny Gray, was indeed close to bumping the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team out.
On Friday and Saturday Tasca and the crew hovered around the cut for qualifying, making followers wonder if they would make the race at all. By Sunday night, though, the team was on a charge.
Tasca drove the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford to a 4.120-second pass at 309.06 mph to qualify 10th and defeated John Force in Round 1 on Monday. He wasn’t done yet. He took out Melanie Troxel, who for a time looked like the driver to beat, in Round 2, then Ron Capps in the semifinals.
His spot in the Countdown no longer in doubt, thanks to Johnny Gray’s first-round loss to Tasca’s ‘One Ford’ teammate Dan Wilkerson, Tasca could focus solely on his final-round match-up with another Ford teammate, Mike Neff.
Tasca and the team showed up to win, but it wasn’t to be as Neff clocked a 4.068 at 314.61. Tasca, whose Funny Car was damaged by fire, still lit up the finish line scoreboard with a respectable 4.147 at 278.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us,” said Tasca, who rose from 10th to eighth in the point standings. “Mike had been running tremendously all day, and we tuned her up and we had a fuel pump shaft break, which leaned the motor out and no fuel was being supplied to the engine. It blew the engine up, but then it sparked inside the fuel system and it exploded the nitro tank.
“I’ve never been in a car that’s done that before. It actually split the tank right in half and caused the fire. But fortunately the fire went out, the Safety Safari was there, but all in all, we had two goals coming into this weekend. Obviously lock into the top 10, and what a roller coaster of an experience we went through with that, between being on the bubble and not qualified, then qualified, and not qualified again, so this team, I think it was a defining moment. Our backs were against the wall multiple times and we came through. We didn’t win the race, but we went to the final round at Indy with our teammate Mike, two Fords in the final. Ford fans got to see an all-Ford show. Hats off to Mike. Obviously his car just ran stellar all day and ultimately he deserved to take the trophy. But we’ll go to Charlotte with some momentum.”
For their efforts, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team earned the Full Throttle Hard-Working Crew Award for the second time this year, a $3,000 prize.
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