Topeka: Tasca III - Ford interview 2009-05-27

This Week in Ford Racing: Bob Tasca III, driver of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang Funny Car, heads into Topeka this weekend for the first of three races in three weeks. The second-year driver sits eighth in NHRA Full Throttle ...

This Week in Ford Racing:

Bob Tasca III, driver of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang Funny Car, heads into Topeka this weekend for the first of three races in three weeks. The second-year driver sits eighth in NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series points standings.

YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FIRST OF THESE THREE-IN-A-ROW RACES ALL SEASON, AND NOW THEY ARE HERE. HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO TOPEKA, CHICAGO AND ENGLISHTOWN? "I'm back to work this morning and truthfully, the first three back-to-back-to-back races of the season, in my opinion, this will determine the top five. The top five coming out of this stretch are either going to pull away, or lock themselves into the top 10, and we want to be one of those top five coming out of this three-race swing. Where we're positioned right now, its great to be in the top 10, but we're a handful of rounds out of the top four or five but we're really at a turning point in this chase, and we've got to make our move over the next three races."

IN ADDITION TO BEING THREE CLOSE RACES, THESE RACES SHOULD HAVE WEATHER CONDITIONS SIMILAR TO WHERE YOU PERFORM AT YOUR BEST - IN THE HEAT. "Our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang has been a car that performs better in the heat, there's no question about that, and it's a good time to have a race car like that. We are working on a cool weather tune-up and we've made good progress with it, but even in Bristol, when Saturday the sun rolled in, we were the quickest car on the property. We're going into Topeka, Chicago and Englishtown; all tracks that can propose hot weather tune-ups, particularly Topeka. Last year we had a great Mustang, raced to the quarterfinals. We performed very well at Topeka last year, so we're hopeful for a good run this weekend. We've been close, but unfortunately we haven't been able to get a run going on Sunday like we did in Gainesville, but I think we're a race away from running the table again."

HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS PART OF THE SEASON? "The next three races are critical races for the top-10 run. I really feel it will separate the top five from the pack and then there are five more spots to go. [Ron] Capps is already distant, so there's really four spots left in the top five, and that's what we're focused on achieving. It's not just being in the top 10, it's about solidly being in the top 10, and we've been very fortunate thus far this season to be in that position. The next three races are going to be pivotal for the top five."

YOU QUALIFIED NUMBER TWO IN TOPEKA LAST YEAR. DO YOU HAVE A LOT MORE CONFIDENCE GOING INTO THE RACE KNOWING YOU HAD A SOLID CAR LAST YEAR? "We had a great car last year, but we didn't have a consistent car last year. This year we have a very consistent Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang Shelby race car, and on certain conditions we're just lethal. Topeka plays to that regardless of what we did last year because it's traditionally a hot race track. Truthfully, from now until the end of the season, you're going to see a lot of hot race tracks because that is the time of year that we're in, so that plays to our strong suit. I'm looking forward to getting back to Topeka just because it was one of those tracks that we did well at, it was a fun place to race. The stadium is a great place to race, but I think the conditions play more to our favor right now with the race car that we have."

YOUR ALLIANCE TEAMMATE, TIM WILKERSON, WAS RUNNER-UP LAST YEAR IN TOPEKA. "Wilkerson is starting to come on -- he jumped around us by a handful of points to move into seventh -- but there's no question about it. His Shelby Mustang is running better, he ran great there last year. He had a great car last year and his car is back up and running to the point he expects it to run at. I think you're going to start to see that the two-car strategy has been beneficial for both Tim and for us. I don't think Wilkerson is not happy where he's at in the points and neither are we. We both want to stay solidly up in this top 10, and it's going to start with Topeka."

WHAT MAKES TOPEKA A UNIQUE TRACK? "It's big. The one thing I remember about Topeka, is that it's huge. In Bristol, our pit was basically on the drag strip and in Topeka you better make sure you have a full tank of gas because the pits are spread out. A lot of people come out to this race. I had fun there, I thought it was a pretty cool place to race at."

AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR YOU TALKED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING IN THE TOP 10; NOW YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT BEING IN THE TOP FIVE. WHAT'S IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET INTO THE TOP FIVE? "We're only a few round wins out of the top five. What's it going to take? To be in the top five, when the points reset, you're going to need a win, or a final-round appearance at minimum. You need a win or a final-round and you're going to need three semifinals, so you're going to need to put some rounds on. We're going to have to more than double what we have now."

DO YOU LOOK AT THINGS A ROUND AT A TIME? "Oh yeah, for sure, one round at a time. And you have to want to win every race. Look at Tony Pedregon, he hasn't won a race yet, but he's been to five straight semifinals, and I think he's third in the points. Now, it's about round wins. You focus on winning -- obviously you go to a race and put yourself in the position to win -- but to be in the top 10, it has nothing to do with how many trophies you have, it's about how many round wins you have. That's what we need to do. You want to go into the last couple of races with a little bit of a cushion so you can push yourself up the ladder a bit. These are going to be pivotal races."

WHY DO YOU LIKE BACK-TO-BACK RACES? "As a driver I think you get into a routine, you get into rhythm. Certainly for the crew it's a lot more work, those guys will work three weeks straight. They'll have enough time to sleep and wake up in the morning but between racing, servicing the car, packing up, driving to the next race, servicing the car again, there will be little to no time for those guys. As a driver I like having the seat time, particularly for me, I'm not a rookie this year but other than Matt Hagan there's no one that has less experience out there than me. It really puts it into perspective as I'm really learning to drive these cars that the more times I get to drive, the better I'll be."

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Bob Tasca III