This Week in Ford Racing Bob Tasca III, driver of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Nitro Funny Car, looks forward to this weekend's Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals in Phoenix. During the offseason, Tasca made 24 test runs; ...
This Week in Ford Racing
Bob Tasca III, driver of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Nitro Funny Car, looks forward to this weekend's Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals in Phoenix. During the offseason, Tasca made 24 test runs; eight of those runs were down the Phoenix track.
BEFORE THE 2009 SEASON STARTED, YOU TESTED IN PHOENIX. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE GOING TO PHOENIX THIS YEAR AFTER NOT QUALIFYING FOR THE 2008 EVENT? "Yeah, I'm looking to conquer Phoenix. This track has just not been good to us. We have had our issues at Phoenix. Last year it was one of only two races that we didn't qualify at, but this year I have a whole different attitude. We have a lot more runs under our belt in testing; we had some great runs in Phoenix getting ready for Pomona. I looked at the weather forecast and there is a zero percent chance of rain Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so that will be nice to get true full rounds of qualifying in with my teammate, Tim Wilkerson, and you know, see how we do on Sunday. At the end of the day, we have a lot of runs on this race track, we got some quick runs on this track during testing. It's going to be great having Tim there, because Tim wasn't with us during testing to really dial this hot rod in. And then run for the trophy on Sunday coming off of a very good appearance in Pomona, considering the weather conditions that all of the teams had to struggle with, plus having only one round of qualifying, one round of eliminations and then two days later second round, so it's pretty hard to get a baseline when you run under conditions like that. But to come out, qualify at fifth, and come out, I think, 20 points out of second, we'll take it and really look into conquer Phoenix. It's been a track that we struggled at last year obviously, but this year it's a whole different deal and I just think that one of these races our numbers are going to come up, and as far as I'm concerned it can be Phoenix."
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF PHOENIX, AND HOW DO YOU RACE IT? "Well Phoenix is known for tire shake. It is a condition that is brought on by not enough traction and causes the tire to lose traction and go into a violent shake, which can really end the run. It's one of those tracks that's really funny because some of the quickest runs in history put down in Phoenix, and it's been a track during testing, where I think it took 85 percent of the field three days before they could make a full pass. At the end of the day, you have to race it different than you do some other tracks, for example, like Pomona. We have had enough runs on the track where we feel pretty confident that we'll be able to get the car to go A to B, right out of the gate. This year it's a whole different deal, we have a lot of data on Phoenix, so out of the gate we're a lot more confident and we have the partnership with Tim Wilkerson, who ran great in Phoenix last year, and obviously will share information this weekend so I think your whole perspective on the races is different.
CAN YOU CARRY DATA FROM RACE TO RACE? "Yes and no. Yes, you can, no, you can't, from the standpoint going from Phoenix, which is above sea level, and then going into Gainesville for the next race, which is potentially below sea level. So, engine data, no; it is a totally different tune-up, completely different. We try to make the same amount of horsepower no matter what race we're at. So we take the engine out as a variable and just tune the clutch and ignition system. So, yes, you can, and no, you can't. There are elements of the tune up that you can take from race to race and there are elements that you basically have to rule out and have to use data whether it be from last year, or the year before."
DO THE CREW CHIEFS HAVE A TOUGH JOB GOING FROM RACE TO RACE? "In this sport, you win or lose by thousandths of a second in some cases, and there's no perfect science. There is no crystal ball that tells you what to do, it's an educated guess is what it really is, so you want to have as much education in the guess, obviously, but it's still a guessing game and obviously at the end of the day when you have a lot of good data to look at then your guess is a lot more educated than it is just a guess. What these crew chiefs have to do, and the decisions they have to make, I don't envy. It's without question the hardest job in our sport, making the decisions to make these cars go down the race track and I have all the faith in Chris Cunningham and [assistant crew chief] Marc Denner, and with Tim's help, that we'll make the right decisions, get this Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car qualified in the top half of the field and just have a good book of data to go into Sunday morning with, and that's the strategy for sure going into the entire season."
-credit: ford racing