Gainesville: Bob Tasca III Saturday notes

TASCA IS NO. 1 QUALIFIER AT NHRA GATORNATIONALS FIRST CAREER TOP QUALIFYING HONORS FOR TASCA AND MOTORCRAFT/QUICK LANE TEAM * In his 27th NHRA competition appearance, Bob Tasca III is the No. 1 qualifier -- his first career top ...

TASCA IS NO. 1 QUALIFIER AT NHRA GATORNATIONALS

FIRST CAREER TOP QUALIFYING HONORS FOR TASCA AND MOTORCRAFT/QUICK LANE TEAM

* In his 27th NHRA competition appearance, Bob Tasca III is the No. 1 qualifier -- his first career top qualifying position

* Tasca is the 89th different driver to qualify a Funny Car No. 1 since the class was created in 1969

* Tasca is the first non-John Force Racing Ford to qualify No. 1 since Whit Bazemore on August 16. 1997, in the Winston Racing Mustang in Brainerd, Minn.

Gainesville, FL., March 14, 2009 -- In Friday's opening qualifying sessions, Bob Tasca III, in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang Shelby, set a time of 4.124 seconds at 296.76 miles per hour. Three runs later and at the conclusion of qualifying for the Gatornationals, that time remained the fastest of the week.

"This is a big step in making a statement in the Motorcraft and Quick Lane program to take the pole," said Tasca. "We'll celebrate a bit tonight, but tomorrow, it's back to racing."

Tasca credits his success this weekend to the hard work and dedication of the team and crew chief Chris Cunningham. A 25-year veteran of racing, Cunningham has been with Tasca since the start of the 2008 season.

"I owe so much to Chris Cunningham.  He believed in me and has
built an amazing team.  He works tirelessly on this hot rod."

Cunningham felt comfortable with Friday's run and talked about the team's progress during the weekend.

"We had good information to work off of after Friday's 4.12 run," said Cunningham, "We went for it today on the first run and it was a touch too aggressive but still showed us a lot of promise. So, we just pulled it back a little bit and it gave us a real nice run. We're looking good going into tomorrow."

Now in his second full season in NHRA Funny Car competition, Tasca discussed both sides of being the top qualifier.

"This is a satisfying feeling but very nerve-wracking. You want to be No. 1, even though it's kind of ceremonial because come tomorrow, you've got to race your race. Ashley [Force Hood] went out there and ran that 4.12. Cunningham said to me going into it, 'Try and run a .15. I don't think anyone will beat the .12. I need to get a handle on my tune-up for tomorrow.' So, that's what we agreed on," said Tasca. "I didn't see John [Force]; I didn't even hear him. I didn't realize how close the race was. It's a real satisfying result."

"We're determined to make our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang team a championship caliber program. We've really stepped up our game and you're starting to see it. You saw it in Pomona, in Phoenix and certainly to be No. 1 qualifier here, I'm a little excited."

Also in their second year with Tasca are sponsors Motorcraft and Quick Lane. Geoff Smith, Ford Customer Service Division Strategy and Incentives Manager, was proud of Tasca and his accomplishment this weekend.

"We're so proud and excited for Bob," said Smith. "It has only been about 15 months since Motorcraft and Quick Lane really got this program off the ground and we're excited to be back in NHRA. All the things that Bob has put into this, and his team, has just been phenomenal. I'm not at all surprised with the results today. We talked a lot in the off-season and about the testing that they did. I said, 'Bob, just give it time, be patient and you'll see the results.' He's done it all."

Tasca will face Jim Head during tomorrow's first round of eliminations.

-credit: motorcraft/btr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Bob Tasca III