READING, Pa., Oct. 3, 2011 – Temperatures hovered around a chilly 50 degrees at Maple Grove Raceway Monday, but things got a little hot for Bob Tasca III under the body of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang Funny Car.
Tasca advanced to the semifinals, which meant the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team stayed overnight to race at the rain-delayed NHRA Nationals near Philadelphia.
The team had plenty of momentum going Sunday before the race was postponed before the semifinals. After defeating Jack Beckman and Tony Pedregon in Rounds 1 and 2, they hoped to carry that into Monday in a semifinal match-up against No. 1 qualifier Johnny Gray.
Tasca nabbed a great advantage on the starting line and stayed with Gray through the run until…suddenly, it got very warm for Tasca. Tasca clocked a 4.372-second pass at 219.04 mph to Gray’s winning 4.022 at 310.55.
“We knew we had to have a good weekend, and the points leaders had to have a bad weekend,” said Tasca, who came in and left in seventh place in the NHRA Full Throttle Series standings. “Fortunately that worked to our favor. We had a rod failure in the semifinals. We were on a great run. We had almost five-hundreths on the tree. As a driver and team, you just want to put yourself in the position to win. And we did that.
“Unfortunately, at about 350 feet, we had a rod let go. We had a big fire; a lot of oil on the track. As a driver, at that point, I heard the motor fail, didn’t see Johnny, so you want to stay with it. As long as you can see that finish line and the fire isn’t that hot, you want to try to get there. Then I saw Johnny come around and the fire was getting worse and I knew at that point I had to get out of that racecar.
“Fortunately all the safety equipment worked, firesuit and gloves. It got real hot in there and we had some oil under the rear tires. As a driver, you’re trying to get it stopped, but when you pull the break and the thing starts washing out on you and coming around, you got to let go of the break.
“There’s so much going through your mind, with the smoke and the heat and the flames, but you know you’ve gotta get it stopped. We’re very lucky I got the car stopped and got out of it. The NHRA Safety Safari was there. We’ve got a lot of damage to the race car, but we’ll get it fixed.
“We’ve got a lot of Ford Parts back in Charlotte and we’ll get re-spooled up heading in to Phoenix. We came into this race knowing we had to do well; we’re going to go into Phoenix with the pressure on us. We’re still alive. Three races to go, plenty of points still left on the table. We’ve got to have a great Phoenix.”
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