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INDIANAPOLIS -- This weekend, Bob Tasca III, driver of the FordParts.com Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car, heads to Indianapolis for the NHRA U.S. Nationals. Coming off a successful test session in Indy last week, Tasca looks forward to kicking off the Countdown to 1 this weekend in the same car that brought him luck during his win in Englishtown earlier this season.
Q. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RACING IN INDIANAPOLIS?
A. Indianapolis is the biggest race of the year for NHRA and it takes on a whole meaning when it’s the first race of the Countdown. Obviously, you want to come out of the box strong. Certainly Indy isn’t going to crown the champion, but winning Indy is a goal that we have to get this Countdown started off right and win the biggest race of the year. It’s such a prestigious race. It’s a race where I’ve been to the final round twice, the first year I ever raced there in my Alcohol Funny Car, and in the second year I went back to the finals. I love racing at Indianapolis. It’s just a great atmosphere, a great place to race in.
Q. THIS WEEKEND, FORDPARTS.COM IS BACK ON YOUR MUSTANG FUNNY CAR.
A. I’m really excited to keep pace and I’m not a superstitious person, but I may become one if we win. We tested in Chicago and debuted the FordParts.com car the following week in Englishtown and won. We tested last week in Indy and we’re bringing the FordParts.com car back out. If we can get that same magic that rubbed off in Englishtown in Indianapolis, they may have to arm wrestle me to take the body back off my Mustang. It will be fun to have the blue and white car out and showing it off in Indianapolis. Hopefully, it brings us the same success it did in Englishtown.
Q. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING INTO THE FINAL SIX RACES OF THE SEASON?
A. You fight all season and it really is a battle. You look at the field out there and there’s legitimately 12 or 13 cars that can make the top 10. You want to put yourself in a position to win, be solidly in the top 10, which we were very fortunate to do, but that’s over. Now you’ve got to look forward. Whether you are first or 10th, it is irrelevant. Robert [Hight] won from the 10th spot; Cruz Pedregon won from the seventh spot. It’s really a 10 car shootout for a championship. As a fan of the sport, it’s exciting to be a part of it, never mind being a driver in the class. For the fans that are going to be at the races and following on TV and the teams and drivers, this is six races to determine who’s the best-of-the-best for this season. Obviously, the way that I’ve looked at the next six races, we’ll have three hot tracks with Indy, Charlotte and Dallas. And we’ve established a tremendous hot weather tune-up over the last couple years in particularly as we refine the Ford BOSS 500 set-up. Then you have three real cool tracks and truthfully, that’s where we really struggled last year. We just didn’t have the combination to run with the big teams. To have a race car coming off this test session where we ran low ET in optimal conditions, we couldn’t say that last year. We didn’t have a race car that could do that. This year we do. The team, Chris Cunningham, Marc Denner and all the guys, they believe it. I certainly believe it. That just gives you a lot of confidence. It’s not one race at a time. We’re taking this one round at time. You’ve got to look at each round -- each qualifying round, and each elimination round. I don’t think you can look too far ahead because things can change real fast in this sport. But you’ve got to minimize your first round losses. You have to capitalize on the semifinals and win a couple races. I don’t know how many you have to win to win the championship, but I feel pretty good. If you can win two of the six and minimize your first round losses, you’re probably going to roll into Pomona with a pretty good shot at taking the championship. So there are a lot of ways to look at it. We’re going into these final six races one round at a time.