BRISTOL — Bristol Dragway was love at first sight for NHRA Funny Car driver Bob Tasca III.
If the opportunity to race at one of the country’s finest facilities wasn’t enough, the people at track knew the sentimental strings to pull to hook the 37-year-old Rhode Island racer.
“As soon as I walked in the tower and saw my grandfather’s picture where he used to race here in the 60s, I loved the place,” he said. “The echo of the motors off the mountains, it’s just something.”
It’s a crucial race, in many ways the biggest race of the season for Tasca. From a marketing standpoint, it doesn’t get any bigger than the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals for the driver of the Motorcraft Ford Mustang.
He’s responded by being on the pole for the event the last two years and Bristol was the site of his quickest career run (4.056 seconds elapsed time) in June 2011.
Bristol looks like a place Tasca could break through with a fifth career victory.
He made a decison to tear his program upside down and go a totally different direction with the clutch and supercharger program. It was a big gamble, but one which Tasca felt was neccessary after testing didn’t net expected results.
“We literally about bankrupted our program testing in the offseason,” he said. “It just never seems to materialize what you test in the offseason works perfectly during the season. You take little pieces from testing, but it doesn’t all come together when the season starts.
“That’s why after Gainesville when I wasn’t happy with the clutch program, we went the different direction. We literally went to Las Vegas with a car that had never gone down the track with that set-up.”
However, he’s making traction as well as anybody with 11 full runs his last 12 times down the track.
“We had two heartbreaking losses at Englishtown and Topeka,” he said. “But, the car is adjusting to what we’re doing, and more importantly, it’s going down the race track. I haven’t hit the parachute button in two races so many times in my career. I feel really good about where we were, an eyelash out of the top 10. One or two good races, and we’re in the top five. That’s what we’re focused on, going rounds and getting down the race track.”
Even though Tasca races a Ford, he said the changes with the clutch program and the blowers he runs are the same as the Schumacher Racing Dodges.
“I have the Ford motor with the heads and the block, but what they’ve done, you can’t dispute success,” he said. “I liked the direction they were going with some of their cars, and that’s what we’ve done with our cars. I have a Tasca car, but it’s starting to run like a Schumacher car with the consistency.”