Our Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has a fight on our hands, and I can tell you one thing — we’re ready for it.
There’s only one race to go until the Countdown to the Championship, and we’re 10th in the NHRA Full Throttle Series Funny Car points, just a half-round out of ninth place.
We rolled the dice with some of the changes we had to make in Brainerd knowing: No. 1, we had two races before the Countdown begins; and No. 2, we are testing in Indy, so we’d have more time to shake down the changes.
We’ve struggled all year to get our car to go down the track consistently. It’s been a problem all season and was just magnified in Sonoma with the clutch failure. In Brainerd, our car was consistent on Friday, but it wasn’t fast enough. At the end of the day, conditions were good and teams were running in the 4.0s. The more we tried to stand on the tune-up the more temperamental the car became.
Now we’ll go straight to a test session in Indy this week.
Mentally, from a peace-of-mind standpoint, I’m thrilled to have this test session. The last thing we wanted to do was go to the race in Indy without making some clean runs.
At the end of the day, there’s no one more disappointed in how we’ve done the last few races than the guys who live and sleep with this race car and that includes me. We just have to get this thing fixed. Fortunately, we have this test session to do that, and trust me we are not far off. When you live on the edge of a razor blade a small move either way makes a big difference!
What we’ve found is the tuning window is too small. Nobody is perfect and right now our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang isn’t giving us a margin of error. We’re making adjustments to give ourselves a tuning window.
Being in the middle of such a tight points race means we get a lot of attention. We’ll try to think of it positively that way! I’ll tell you one thing, we want to steal as much TV time as we can for our sponsors, and from a drama standpoint, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang will get a whole lot of visibility at the Indy race!
I’m excited about Indy. It’s arguably our biggest race of the year, and I’ve done really well there. I’ve been to three final rounds in Indy, including last year’s runner-up to Mike Neff. I love being parked on that big stage. Our Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has always found a way to step up big when our backs are against the wall. I know we’ll do that again.
Hey, have you heard about this big Traxxas Nitro Shootout? This is a big deal for us! Everyone wants to make it into the big bonus event in Indy, so give us a vote on NHRA’s Facebook page!
Remember this slogan: “It’s not a race without a Shelby! Vote Tasca!”
VOTE TASCA NOW: http://www.facebook.com/NHRA
Dad and me suited up and ready to try bobsledding
Sixty-eight mph feels much faster in a bobsled than it does in my Ford.
Let me tell you, I’ve gone pretty fast in my day. I will never forget how it felt to hit the throttle on my Funny Car and actually take it on a full pass for the first time.
A bobsled is a whole other ball game.
I take my family on the Western Swing with me every year. That means three weeks in the motorhome together, but it’s the only time I can race and really spend time with my family at the same time.
This year after Denver we stopped in Park City, Utah. That’s where I met the bobsled.
My dad, crew man Geff Whitt, and the instructor all rode down together. Now, in my Motorcraft/Quick Lane Funny Car, I have a full carbon fiber body around me. In this thing? Just my helmet.
We all agreed that it was good to check this item off of our collective to-do lists, but I don’t think you’ll see us going back for another ride, especially my dad! I don't think he'll ever be the same.
Here are some photos from our Western Swing vacation. As you can see, we all had a lot of fun. It was good for the boys to see the athletes at Park City training for the Winter Olympics. They usually only see hockey! We even met up with Tony Pedregon and his family on the road again this year, at Train Town.
One of my favorite parts of this year’s Swing was my EcoBoost car in Seattle. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a photo! What do you think?
We were chosen to participate in Ford Racing’s Global EcoBoost movement – one car from every series Ford races in around the world will compete with the EcoBoost white, black and blue paint scheme during the month of August. This weekend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Matt Kenseth will race with the paint scheme in the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup series.
The EcoBoost car, for us, was something totally out-of-the-box. It really told the story about one of the most exciting technologies within Ford Motor Company.
I’ve said it before, but Ford EcoBoost is like having your cake and eating it too. That’s the best way I can describe it. It uses small engines that are turbo charged to give you great performance and great fuel economy. That’s what everyone is looking for now. It’s not just on small vehicles and engines — we’re talking from the Fusion all the way up to the F-150; from four cylinders up to six.
It was fun to be part of a global campaign to create awareness about technology that is really changing the way people think about buying vehicles.
Competition-wise, the Swing wasn’t what we hoped it would be. We had some issues, but as race teams we learn from them and move on. Points are really important now, and I told my guys our Countdown fight starts now. Really, there are three races before the Countdown: Brainerd, testing at Indy and Indy.
We have a seasoned, veteran team with Dickie Venables, Chris Cunningham and Marc Denner. These guys have been down this road many times. We have a talented crew. I'm as confident as I've ever been heading into this part of the season! I wouldn’t bet against us!
Speaking of betting for us — the big vote for the Traxxas Nitro Shootout is coming up! Stay tuned! We’ll show you how to vote us in.
You know that feeling you have when you’re at the top of a roller coaster looking down at the biggest drop of the ride?
We’re at that point of the season, when there’s no turning back and no getting out. It’s time for the Western Swing.
This is about the time when earning points becomes critical. We talk about points all year because every one really is important in the NHRA Full Throttle Series, especially in a category as competitive as Funny Car. You want to qualify and win as much as the next driver and if you’re not having any luck on Sunday, at least not get too far behind. You want to be within striking distance by the time the Countdown to the Championship playoffs come around.
We’re sixth in points right now, up two spots thanks to a semifinal finish in Norwalk. We ran with our “Our Everyday Heroes” JDRF paint scheme there and I think it brought us good luck. Unfortunately we had to race our Shelby teammate in the semis, which we always hate to do. That’s a no-win for us.
An 11-year-old with type 1 diabetes designed our car and wouldn’t you know it, she’s a drag racer! She’s a good one, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in the pros one day. Remember the name – Libby Ledford. It was great to meet Libby, her family and friends. Great people!
Libby even left the track with a Wally. The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team won “Best Appearing Crew” for our uniforms made from Libby’s design.
After the race my family and I went to Cedar Point for an event my best friend Tony Pedregon puts on with his team. Cedar Point is a huge amusement park not far from Norwalk that has a ride called the “Top Thrill Dragster.” I love roller coasters and this is a great one. We signed some autographs and had fun on the rides.
Now it’s time for the Western Swing, which means we’re at the midpoint of our year and nearing the end of the regular season. Five races are left before playoffs begin.
My family and I begin our annual vacation this week. Every year we drive the Western Swing in our motor home. With four boys and three in sports, the schedule during the school year is pretty hectic. It’s important to my wife Terri and me to spend as much time as we can together with the boys and this is a great time to do it. We have a few favorite spots to see along the way but we always see a few new things, too.
The Wood Bros. and Trevor Bayne in Charlotte
It used to be that when people asked us which race was busiest, the answer was easy – Indianapolis.
At Indy, you don’t get five free minutes at the track. There are so many interviews, meet-and-greets and autograph sessions (not to mention the rounds of racing!) that it really is a grind.
Now other races are starting to catch up, like the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
I like being busy. Having lots of things to concentrate on actually helps not get too keyed up about racing my Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang Funny Car. The days fly by!
Let me tell you…we were busy in Charlotte. Our new Motorcraft Marketing and Motorsports Manager came to see us and it was his first drag race, so we had a lot to show him. On Sunday, our sponsor teammate Trevor Bayne, Eddie and Len Wood from Wood Brothers Racing and Donnie Wingo, Trevor’s crew chief, came out to cheer for us.
You may have noticed that we in the Ford Funny Car camps are pretty close. We’ve all known each other for many years and respect each other. We call it “One Ford” and for us it really is. We may want to beat each other on the track, but at the end of the day we’re family. We have that same kind of bond with Trevor and Wood Brothers Racing through Motorcraft and Quick Lane Racing.
Trevor drove the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, then flew with the Woods overnight to see us in Charlotte. It’s always great to get the extra support at the track. Jack Roush, whose team won the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races in Texas, came out to zMAX Dragway too.
Last week the Ford Mustang turned 48. The Mustang is an iconic brand for Ford and a car that is especially important to me! I race one, after all.
My son Austin finally got the junior dragster he’s been asking for. Now both Bobby and Austin have one and they’re painted to look just like my Funny Car. It’s amazing how quick kids grow up. They were supposed to come down to Charlotte to attend Roy Hill’s Drag Racing School but an airplane malfunction canceled their flight. We couldn’t find another one. I assured them they will get another chance. They can’t wait!
We’re headed to NASA’s Johnson Space Center tomorrow with ESPN2before the race in Houston. I look forward to this every year and will have lots to ask about after “The Science of Drag Racing” event the staff at zMAX Dragway invited me to attend to promote their race. Talk about cool – I was able to talk with real physicists and retired astronaut Joan Higginbotham about how racing a Funny Car is like flying in a space shuttle. They really are very similar. My Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang still accelerates quicker, though.
I really have to hand it to the PR staff at zMAX Dragway. They come up with the most creative ideas to promote drag racing. The whole staff at zMAX does an incredible job. I was happy to be there.