If Bob Tasca III knows a turnaround is coming, and the Funny Car driver is confident one is, having that turnaround begin to take shape at his home track might be the ideal way to make a resounding resurgence.
That is at least the plan for Tasca, who has been left scratching his head far too often during the recent stretch in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. But Tasca is ready to put a few of those rough patches to rest, starting this weekend at the 2nd annual Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
The race is the 11th of 24 in the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, and the Rhode Island native sees it as the perfect opportunity to showcase his 10,000-horsepower Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang running at a championship level.
“With the way our season is going, we need some home-court advantage,” Tasca said. “We need a good weekend, and it couldn't come at a better time than right now. I can tell you no one is working harder than we are to turn our season around. Unfortunately, we have nothing to show for it yet. I know we are very close to turning the corner, and there is no better time than the New England race.”
Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and John Hall (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were inaugural winners of an event that exceeded all expectations and generated plenty of excitement for the motorsports-hungry fans of the Northeast. The race will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Despite a first-round loss at the Epping event a year ago, Tasca thoroughly enjoyed NHRA’s remarkable debut in the region. The buildup was tremendous, and Tasca eagerly did his part to drum up interest for an event that entertained fans at a fervid level all weekend. But if the debut was a massive success, Tasca, who has four Funny Car victories, thinks the encore will be that much better.
“It was awesome,” Tasca said of the inaugural event. “I know firsthand how hard so many people worked to make it happen. To have that kind of turnout for the first event was awesome. I know this year’s event will be just as big. Fans were talking about it all year long. I can’t tell you how many people from races this year keep telling me they will see me in New England. It will be another great race.”
The next step is Tasca following suit with a performance that captures the attention of the strong local fan base and the rest of the ultracompetitive Funny Car class.
He had that early in the season, performing at a championship-caliber level in picking up four round-wins in the first three races, and held down fifth in points after the Gainesville event. But since then, Tasca has struggled mightily, earning just one round-win in the past seven events.
He has been plagued by a litany of difficulties, falling to eventual runner-up Tim Wilkerson in the first round at the most recent event in Bristol. Tasca now sits 12th in points and will face an uphill climb to jump back into the top 10 and earn a spot in the Countdown to the Championship.
Standing in his way is an array of talent, including last year’s Epping winner, Courtney Force, who beat her father and 16-time Funny Car world champion, John Force, in the final in 2013. Everyone is chasing points leader Robert Hight, and other championship-caliber drivers include Alexis DeJoria, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, Del Worsham, Bristol winner Tommy Johnson Jr., and Jack Beckman.
“I really felt like we would make a great run against Tim in the opening round,” Tasca said of his first-round loss at Thunder Valley. “The track was really hot, we knew that Tim would make a great run, and we pushed a little too hard. We are a determined team, and we will have our day of glory. It just might be in New England.”
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds and enjoy cherished face time with and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Families who are planning to attend the event will want to take advantage of the free tickets for kids ages 12 and younger. Fans will also want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, June 20, with sessions at 4:15 and 6:45 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, June 21, at 12:15 and 2:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday, June 22.
To experience the roaring excitement of the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals, get your tickets by calling 800-884-NHRA (6472) or visiting NHRATix.com.