MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 27, 2008) – Bob Tasca III leapt out of the top of his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang following the final run of qualifying at Memphis Motorsports Park as he and his team earned the 16th and final spot for Sunday’s Mid-South Nationals.
“That performance just shows the character of this team when their backs are against the wall,” said Tasca. “When you don’t get in on Friday night, the strategy for Saturday is totally different. I mean you’re one of eight cars racing for four spots and it’s go or go home.”
Tasca was 15th following the first run of the day, but when the time came for the rookie driver’s final qualifying run, Tasca was on the outside looking in after being pushed down to the No. 17 spot.
“You know when you’re sitting in that car, it almost doesn’t make a difference where you’re at, because you can’t let that overtake you,” said the Rookie-of-the-Year nominee. “You have to look at it as though you have to go out and do your job, and then let the chips fall where they may because you don’t want to do anything to screw it up.
“Chris [Cunningham, crew chief] closed the box and we knew that we had to go quicker than a 4.20 to bump into the show, and I hit the gas and it felt good. And then you get into that danger zone and it’s amazing how much goes through your mind in such a short period of time because it seems like an eternity. You’re just truckin’ through there and you’re thinking, well, here’s where we can get into trouble, and it didn’t. The car just pulled right through.”
Tasca will make his 20th professional start of his career, and with Del Worsham missing the field, Tasca unofficially moves up into the No. 11 spot in the points.
“We’re not in the top 10 and we’re not running for a championship, but for us, these are championship moments,” said Tasca of his team’s performance on Saturday. “As a young team, these are the moments that we sink our teeth into. These are the moments where as a driver you have to step up and as a crew chief you have step up and show what we’re made of. I’m just so proud of Chris and the guys on the team.”
Tasca’s qualifying spot pits him up against No. 1 qualifier, Ashley Force, in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. It will be the first meeting between the two Ford drivers since the season-opening race at Pomona.
“The great news is that there will be a Ford in the second round for sure,” said Tasca. “You never like to race another Ford family car like that first round, but it is what it is. Ashley is going to go out there and they’ve got a great team and a great running hot rod, and we’ve got a great team and a great hot rod, so we’ll see how that first round ends up. We’ve got nothing to lose and we’re going to be a dangerous team to run tomorrow.”
NEWS/STATS AT A GLANCE:
– Tasca will make his 20th professional Funny Car start of his career in Sunday’s Mid-South Nationals.
– Sunday’s first round will be the second meeting between Tasca and Ashley Force. The two previously competed in the season-opener in Pomona in the second round, with Force coming away with the round win.
– Qualifying Run No. 3: 4.214 ET / 289.45 mph
– Qualifying Run No. 4: 4.197 ET / 291.95 mph (Qualifying Run)
– Qualifying Run No. 1: 4.659 ET / 180.81 mph
– Qualifying Run No. 2: 4.174 ET / 292.01 mph
– Tasca Racing recently broke ground on their new racing shop in Concord, North Carolina, with an expected complete date of February 2009.
– Tasca is running a full season and competing for 2008 Rookie-of-the-Year honors.
– Tasca began putting together his nitro Funny Car team in November 2007, for debut at the 2008 Winternationals at Pomona in February.
ABOUT THE DRIVER:
Bob Tasca III is a 32-year-old rookie in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing nitro Funny Car class. Tasca competed the past three seasons in the Alcohol Funny Car class. Tasca is also a third-generation Ford dealer from Rhode Island.