Englishtown: Round 11 preview

TASCA LOOKING FOR MORE FUNNY CAR SUCCESS AS HE HEADS HOME TO RACEWAY PARK IN ENGLISHTOWN ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Bob Tasca's mail is delivered to his home in Rhode Island, but he can think of no better place to haul the mail than the track that he...


ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Bob Tasca's mail is delivered to his home in Rhode Island, but he can think of no better place to haul the mail than the track that he considers his home away from home, just a short blast down I-95 in New Jersey.

Tasca has been going to races at venerable Old Bridge Township Raceway Park all of his life.

He watched his grandfather race there. It's where he was bit by the drag racing bug himself and the place where he won his very first NHRA national event -- in Top Alcohol Funny Car during his sportsman racing days.

Now he is focused on earning his first professional victory there, and second overall, June 11-14 at the United Association NHRA SuperNationals. Tony Schumacher, Tim Wilkerson, Greg Anderson and Chip Ellis are the defending winners in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, which will be televised by ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD.

Tasca, a sophomore in NHRA Funny Car competition, raced to his first career victory earlier this season at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Flordia. It was an emotional scene as he celebrated with is Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Ford Mustang crew. If he's able to win at Englishtown, the celebration would be off the charts.

"The history at Englishtown is almost unparalleled," Tasca said. "It's my home track. There are so many fans from Rhode Island and neighboring areas that come down and watch us race. It's pretty historic for me only because it's a track that my grandfather performed very well at and had countless match races over the years. There are magic moments in everyone's life and for me, one of the greatest magic moments was Englishtown when I won that first national event in my alcohol funny car and my entire family was there. I really think it played a big role in me getting my (Funny Car) sponsorship with Motorcraft and Quick Lane. The Ford executives were there, they saw the crowds, the passion and then they saw us win. It's a place where if we raced 24 times there, it wouldn't bother me a bit. I'm looking to get a win in the fuel car in front of the home crowd and the Motorcraft Racing Experience will be there. In case you didn't know, I'm real excited about Englishtown."

Tasca, who struggled somewhat in his freshman season and finished outside the top 10 in points, says winning at Gainesville in March really set the stage for what he feels like this team is able to accomplish. A partnership with Wilkerson where the two teams share data and tuning information has also been extremely beneficial.

"I think it's not what we learned (from winning at Gainesville), it's what we proved," said Tasca, who is currently eighth in the Funny Car point standings. "It's what we proved to our sponsor, the fans, the racers and ourselves that we are winners and that we have what it takes to win. That to me was very important. It was important for me to prove to my team that I could perform as a driver and I know it was so important for them to prove to Ford and to our program that they can deliver a race car that could win. We knew it. We believed it, but proving it is everything. I don't think the Gainesville win changed my goals for the season. Our expectation is to win and it's not to win one race, but it's to win multiple races. It is about putting ourselves in a position to run for the championship. That was the goal going into this year, to get in the top 10, stay in the top 10 and be a contender to race for the championship. Nobody can guarantee a championship. That's pretty evident when you see the level of competition out there. However, you want to guarantee yourself a chance to win a championship. That was our goal coming into the season, winning hasn't deviated that at all, but it is about proving to the world that we could win and getting that first win behind us is certainly a great accomplishment in only our 27th race."

With so much familiarity at Raceway Park, Tasca says that the key to racing there is really all about team preparation, not in specific challenges that the track itself presents.

"Englishtown can be really fast, but because the race takes place in the middle of summer, it's a hot race track," Tasca said. "The key of racing in Englishtown, I don't think is any different than racing at any other track. You have to go in with a race car that is predictable. We have a Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang that is very predictable, it's better on a hot track than a cool track but it goes A to B a lot and it goes A to B fast. At Bristol on a 121-degree race track, we ran low ET on Saturday. Going into Englishtown, the key to us will be us, not Englishtown. It will be how well we're prepared. It's the decision-making processes that the crew chiefs go through, it's the driver performing. The key to win Englishtown is us. We hold the key and how we manage the race will ultimately how well we do."

While Tasca will be focused on moving up in the points order, Ron Capps has led the standings all season in his NAPA Dodge Charger and will be looking for another win. Hard-charging Del Worsham posted back-to-back victories in St. Louis and Bristol in his Al-Anabi Racing Toyota Solara and is a two-time winner at Englishtown. Others to watch include defending world champion Cruz Pedregon, a two-time winner at the track, along with other past E-town winners Tony Pedregon, Tasca teammate Wilkerson and John Force, a four-time winner.

Former bike racer and local favorite Antron Brown, a native of Chesterfield, N.J. who now calls Indianapolis home, is having great success in his transition to Top Fuel competition in his Matco Tools dragster and is currently leading the point standings following a runner-up finish at Chicago. Tony Schumacher continues to be tough to beat in the 7,000 horsepower category as the six-time world champ is winning races once again in his U.S. Army dragster, except this time with a new crew chief, Mike Green, and a brand new crew. Other top contenders include Brandon Bernstein, Cory McClenathan, Morgan Lucas and Larry Dixon, a four-time winner at the historic dragstrip.

Jeg Coughlin, Jason Line, Mike Edwards and Greg Anderson are the front-runners in Pro Stock, while defending series champ Eddie Krawiec, Andrew Hines, Matt Smith and rookie Doug Horne are among the favorites in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday, June 12, and noon and 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 13. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 14.

TICKETS: Tickets are available for the United Association NHRA SuperNationals by calling Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (732) 446-7800 or via the Internet at www.ticketmaster.com or www.racewaypark.com.

* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 7 p.m. (ET) on Saturday June 13 and another hour of coverage later that evening at 11:30 p.m.. On Sunday, June 14, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will feature NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute pre-race show, at noon (ET), and three hours of eliminations coverage at 10 p.m. (ET).

* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The United Association NHRA SuperNationals also will feature competition in seven categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Series earn their racing stripes. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 10:15 a.m. on June 11. Lucas Oil Series eliminations begin at 10:15 a.m. on June 12.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Jeg Coughlin , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Tim Wilkerson , Brandon Bernstein , Morgan Lucas , Jason Line , Andrew Hines , Matthew Smith , Chip Ellis , Eddie Krawiec , Mike Edwards