BRISTOL, Tenn. – Bob Tasca III took the first step toward becoming the second Ford Funny Car driver in history to reach the winner’s circle at Bristol Dragway when he drove the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car to the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot under the lights in Thunder Valley at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers.

Tasca clocked a 4.107-second pass at 308.21 mph to pace the field, with ‘One Ford’ teammate Robert Hight behind him at No. 2.

“I have to be honest with you,” Tasca said after claiming the provisional No. 1 for Sunday’s 11th annual Ford Thunder Valley Nationals presented by the Tri-Cities Ford Dealers. “I didn’t think it was going to hold. We figured someone was going to run a 4.06 or 4.07.

“It’s big to be No.1 at the Ford race, but it was a little hairy. We put a brand new motor in the car (for the second session) and (crew chief) Chris Cunningham didn’t like the cylinder temperatures when it warmed up.

“We downloaded the data and they got the valve covers off and they were adjusting valves and changing coil boxes, changing wires. Then they found an oil leak because we started the motor up on gas to make sure everything was good. They were thrashing to get the oil leak fixed and I am looking at it and Pro Stock is running and I knew we were first or second pair (if Funny Cars).

“So, I said, ‘Chris, are we all right?’ He said we were all right. Chris is one cool cat under pressure.”

Qualifying concludes with two rounds at Bristol Dragway on Saturday, June 18.

“As a driver, just finding the groove is important (in these night qualifying runs),” Tasca said. “If you get it out of the groove and you are pulling real hard on the engine you have a good chance of smoking the tires (losing traction).

“It got out there and it started really moving around. I had my hands full and I hit the parachutes. I knew it was on a good run,” he said. “At the end of the day, we were just wanting to go down the racetrack. Obviously it was a better run than we gave it credit for.”

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