Tasca leads Reading NHRA winners
Bob Tasca raced to his second Funny Car victory of the season Sunday at the Toyo Tire NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
Larry Dixon, Jeg Coughlin and Eddie Krawiec also were winners in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event. Only one race remains in the NHRA regular season before the six-race playoffs -- the Countdown to 1 -- begins Sept. 18 at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C.
Water seepage continued to be a problem on the racing surface Sunday, delaying eliminations for more than four hours. NHRA and track officials worked throughout the day to keep the track dry for the safety of the participants and were able to complete eliminations throughout a long day of racing.
Tasca, earned his second win of the season and his career in his Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang with a 4.239 second run at 292.71 mph to hold off challenger Mike Neff in the final, whose Ford Drive One Mustang finished just .008 slower with a 4.247 at 264.13.
Tasca also beat John Force, Robert Hight and Ron Capps on his path to the final round.
"This is a pretty meaningful race for me on a multitude of levels," said Tasca, a two-time finalist in Top Alcohol Funny Car in Reading. "This was the race John Force ran my grandfather's body on his car. This was the first race I ever hit the throttle on my Alcohol Funny Car to compete at a national event. I beat Frank Manzo here in my Alcohol Funny Car to win the Richmond race in the third qualifying session -- so I don't know if that counts against Manzo in Reading, but the man's lost on this property to Tasca.
"For us, we don't come out here to compete; we come out here to win. It's about winning a championship. It's about putting yourself to win. Someone said to me, 'Man, you got a lousy draw. You have to run Ron Capps first round.' I said, 'No, I don't think it's a lousy draw at all.' We're here to win a championship, and if we're going to win a championship, we're going to have to beat Capps and [John] Force and [Tony] Pedregon, so we were up for the fight."
In Funny Car, Tim Wilkerson, Tasca, Del Worsham and Force all clinched their spots in the Countdown to 1 playoffs.
In Top Fuel, Dixon earned his fifth Top Fuel victory of the season when rookie Spencer Massey struck the tires early on coasting to an 8.691 at 76.36. Dixon covered the distance in 3.899 at 306.05 in his Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing dragster for the win. This was the first win for Dixon at Maple Grove Raceway.
"This is such a historic racetrack, and I've always wanted to win here," said Dixon. "My dad won here, running points races back in the day. I just love coming to this track, and for one reason or another, we've just never been able to close the deal. I've been halfway down the track thinking we're going to win and then break an input shaft and lose, so just to see the win light come on, it was awesome.
Rookie, Spencer Massey made a convincing stride for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award by making his third final round appearance of the season.
In Pro Stock, Coughlin and Johnny Gray met in the final round, but it was Coughlin who drove his JEGS. com Chevy Cobalt to an easy win at 6.634 at 207.05. It was Coughlin's fifth win of the season and 47th of his career.
"We struggled in the two qualifying runs we had and ended up eighth, but we knew we had a lot under the hood and the car to do it," said Coughlin. "First round was pretty much the same story as the first two runs, and then we just tried to get aggressive and more aggressive with the setup to give it what it wanted. My dad and Roy Simmons just did a fantastic job. It went .64, .64, and .63 coming down the stretch.
"This Countdown points battle is just incredible. It's unbelievable from eighth to 10th, and right now, there's three of us within a round and a half of remaining in the No. 1 spot going into the Countdown to 1, so that was exciting to take Mike [Edwards] out and come right back and beat Jason [Line]. We had two goals this year: One was to perform better in the Countdown to 1 segment, the first 18 races, and we've certainly done that with six huge wins and a K&N Horsepower Challenge win. And we definitely would like to finish out Indy in the No. 1 spot and enter the Countdown to 1 with the 30-point lead."
Greg Stanfield and Ron Krisher both clinched a spot in the Countdown to 1, there are three spots in the top 10 for Pro Stock remaining.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec earned his fourth victory of the season, with a victory over Michael Phillips. Krawiec had the faster run on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson with a 7.138 at 185.13.
"It's great being secure going into Indy that I am going to get those extra points for being in that No. 1 position, and we all know how valuable round-win points are," said Krawiec. "It could get me the championship at the end of the year. We've just went out here and worked after it to try and get as many wins as we can, and hopefully, I can do that for the second half of the season.
"I have a lot of respect for Michael. Michael is one of the most underestimated riders out there, and he does this on his own budget. To see him come out here and do well, I'm really excited. He got himself in the top 10, which is a good thing. The class needs more of that. It's a good shot in the arm and a big boost for a new guy to get into the hunt. And you can't count him out. He could win the championship, too. Just because he's an underfunded team doesn't mean he won't win it."
Matt Guidera secured his positions in the Countdown to 1, the three remaining invitations will be issued after the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series concludes the NHRA regular season the week after next (Sept. 2-7) with the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. The Countdown to 1 – begins Sept. 18 at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C.