Tasca scores first NHRA win in almost seven years
Bob Tasca III powered to his first Funny Car win in nearly seven years, beating John Force in the final round of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, while Mike Salinas also picked up the victory in Top Fuel.
Tasca, who last won late in the 2012 season, denied Force his 150th career win, going 4.008-seconds at 316.23 mph in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang to beat Force’s Chevy Camaro which ran a 4.155 at 287.05. It was Tasca’s fifth career win and first in 100 races.
Tasca, who qualified third, beat James Campbell, Robert Hight and back-to-back Bristol winner Ron Capps, who beat Tasca in the final round here a year ago, to reach his 13th career final round.
“It was just a hard-fought effort,” said Tasca, who improved to ninth in Funny Car points. “I knew it would be a slugfest against Force, but I love racing John.
“It was probably one of the biggest wins in my career. We had to build this car from scratch, but the chemistry on this team is good and I’ve never had a racecar like this. It’s fast and the guys put me in a position to win.
“I love racing here. There’s so much history with my family racing in Thunder Valley and I really wanted to win this one. It was just a great day.”
Force beat Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. to reach his 252nd final round, but he will now have to wait until next weekend in Norwalk for a chance to score his 150th career win.
Salinas snapped the five-race winning streak of points leader and defending world champion Steve Torrence thanks to a final-round pass of 3.836 at 325.69 in his Scrappers Racing dragster. Torrence, who had won 22 straight rounds before Sunday’s loss in the finals, went 3.892 at 287.60, slowing at the finish line.
After winning his first career Top Fuel race earlier this year at Las Vegas, Salinas picked up round wins against Scott Palmer, Antron Brown and No. 1 qualifier Doug Kalitta on Sunday en route to his second career win.
“It’s kind of surreal what is happening,” said Salinas, who jumped to third in Top Fuel points. “The guys are amazing, they’re doing a great job and we’re having a lot of fun.
“You can’t take anybody lightly out here. I have all the confidence in this team and it’s just amazing to be in the seat with these guys. Alan Johnson and the crew just know how to do it and it’s just amazing, it really is.”
Torrence, who maintains a commanding points lead, reached his 48th career final round thanks to wins against Pat Dakin, Clay Millican and Dom Lagana.
Final finish order at the 19th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway
TOP FUEL: 1. Mike Salinas; 2. Steve Torrence; 3. Doug Kalitta; 4. Dom Lagana; 5. Clay Millican; 6. Lex Joon; 7. Terry McMillen; 8. Antron Brown; 9. Scott Palmer; 10. Audrey Worm; 11. Brittany Force; 12. Cameron Ferre; 13. Austin Prock; 14. Richie Crampton; 15. Pat Dakin; 16. Leah Pritchett.
FINAL: Mike Salinas, 3.836 seconds, 325.69 mph def. Steve Torrence, 3.892 seconds, 287.60 mph.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Bob Tasca III; 2. John Force; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Jack Beckman; 5. Shawn Langdon; 6. Robert Hight; 7. J.R. Todd; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9. Tim Wilkerson; 10. Cruz Pedregon; 11. Terry Haddock; 12. Matt Hagan; 13. Blake Alexander; 14. Jim Campbell; 15. Jeff Diehl.
FINAL: Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.008, 316.23 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.155, 287.05.
Point standings after 11 of 24 events in 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 1,048; 2. Doug Kalitta, 709; 3. Mike Salinas, 691; 4. Antron Brown, 676; 5. Brittany Force, 663; 6. Clay Millican, 611; 7. Leah Pritchett, 571; 8. Richie Crampton, 499; 9. Austin Prock, 486; 10. Terry McMillen, 470.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 990; 2. John Force, 786; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 783; 4. Ron Capps, 741; 5.Jack Beckman, 720; 6. J.R. Todd, 711; 7. Matt Hagan, 624; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 587; 9. Bob Tasca III, 574; 10. Shawn Langdon, 528.
S. Torrence and Hight win in Topeka
Tasca, S. Torrence, McGaha, Hines win in Norwalk