Bob Tasca III added another notch to his new Mustang’s belt, following uo a pair of wins earlier this season with his first No. 1 qualifying effort with the new Ford skin. Tasca collected the pole, the fourth of his nitro career, based on his Friday night 3.871 then had an adventurous Saturday when a broken rocker arm led to a huge engine explosion that shredded his car’s body, followed by an impressive comeback run later in the day of 3.969.
“It was madness between runs; I tell ya, I give my guys all the credit,” said Tasca. “We had to switch engines, switch bodies, weld up on the chassis, and assess what happened. Up until [it blew up], the car was on a great run and was going to run a low 3.90. We came back and made another solid run in Q4.
“Clearly you don’t want to have to rebuild a car in the middle of a race, but my guys are battle-tested and we’ve been through all of the ups and downs, but I got back in that car with all the confidence in the world. We always want to come into Sunday with a car that we believe can win, and that’s the whole purpose of Friday and Saturday, and with the way this car has run we’re feeling very confident.”
The final Funny Car qualifying session was a treat unto itself as 12 of the 13 cars who made passes were in the three-second zone, led by Robert Hight’s 3.892. Teammates Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr., who will face off in round one, both ran 3.91s and Blake Alexander’s 3.999 made him the field’s 12th three-second qualifier.
Tasca will take on Terry Haddock in the opening round while world champ J.R. Todd, the No. 2 qualifier (3.886) with the DHL Toyota, will square off with “the Surfer,” Jeff Diehl. Matt Hagan, whose Sandvik Coromant Dodge qualified No. 3 with a 3.888 will face Gary Densham while John Force, still gunning for his 150th career win, opens against Jim Campbell.
Hight (3.892) and Shawn Langdon and Ron Capps (both at 3.899) made it seven cars qualified in the 3.8-second zone, an impressive total. Langdon, ranked ninth in points, will have a Countdown-critical first-round race with Cruz Pedregon, who sits 11th and needs a big Sunday to pull himself back into playoff contention.
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