The 43-year-old Rhode Island racer powered his red and white Ford Mustang down Bristol Dragway in 4.008 seconds at 316.23 mph to beat Force in Sunday’s Funny Car finals of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
It was Tasca’s fifth career Funny Car victory and his first since 2012. After reaching the final round at Bristol in 2018, he became the first driver of a single-car Funny Car team to win since Cruz Pedregon at Charlotte in April 2018.
His car was steady down the track, which allowed him to win. It was also important for his team after convincing Ford to come back in the sport after the manufacturer dropped its factory support at the end of the 2014 season.
“It’s a tricky track out there with the temperatures and bumps out there to move you around, but that’s what makes it fun,” Tasca said. “It was just a hard-fought effort. Getting out of the car, it’s the biggest career win for me. It’s because Ford came back to NHRA. I told them I was going to win. We built this thing from scratch, built a new body and now we’re starting to catch our stride.”
Force, the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion, remains stuck at a NHRA record 149 national-event victories after winning last July in Denver. The 70-year-old California racing legend extended his NHRA record of 255 final-round appearances, one day after setting another record with his 158th No. 1 qualifying effort.
After a bye in his opening round and then beating Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman the next two rounds, Force’s Chevrolet Camaro came up short with a 4.155-second run at 287.05 mph in the final round.
“No Father’s Day (celebration) for me, didn’t get that win. I feel a lot better about my race car being competitive. We’ve moved up to No. 2 in the points, that’s some good news,” Force said. “I’ve got confidence, not just in my car, my car has always been good, (crew chiefs) Brian Corradi and Danny Hood and (car chief) Tim Fabrisi, but I have confidence in me.
“We had an issue up there and that happens but I’ve had to make a lot of changes myself. I’ve found out a lot of stuff. Not just with the car. I’ve been going to doctors, got special glasses, working on eating habits, got to get off that sugar, it drops you. I’ve said it before, I’m in the game. That win is coming.”
Tasca had a tough overall road to the victory. He beat two-time Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon in the opening round, defeated points leader Robert Hight in the quarterfinals and took down five-time Bristol winner Ron Capps in the semifinals.
His team, which included former Force crew members Jon Schaffer and Mike Neff, gave Tasca the extra motivation he needed.
“There are no easy ladders, trust me,” Tasca said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform and I was not happy after the second round. Mike Neff was like, ‘What’s wrong with you? We’ve kicked every one of these guys’ tails before, and you go out there and kick some tail.’ It’s the mindset, so much confidence being around these guys. To close the deal, it’s really hard to win and I’m thrilled.”