People, Places & Racing News

NHRA: Bob Tasca Picks Up First Career Funny Car Win

NEWS NUGGETS 

TASCA GETS FIRST CAREER WIN; DIXON GETS FIRST 2009 WIN AT GAINESVILLE: It was a Sunday of firsts in the nitro classes of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series as Funny Car driver Bob Tasca picked up his first career win, while former two-time Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon picked up his first win with his new Al-Anabi team.

From Friday qualifying to Sunday's finals, Tasca proved that he had the car to beat, securing the No. 1 qualifying position, then moving past names like Jim Head, Tim Wilkerson, John Force and close friend Tony Pedregon in the final round. It was his first win of the season and first career win in the Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang.

“Tony is my best friend—I was the best man at his wedding—and I can’t tell you what he means to me,” said Tasca. “Our families are going to Disney World tomorrow—my wife is his wife’s best friend, too—and he hugged me before the final and said, ‘B, either way, we’re going to Disney tomorrow, but if you win you’re buying dinner.’”

For Dixon, his first win of the season and first win for the newly organized Al-Anabi Racing team was exactly what they needed to forget the early season woes the team has faced.

“I know how hard it is to make these cars go down the track, but they make it look easy,” said Dixon, referring to his new team. “It’s an amazing group. Alan Johnson is a genius and Jason McCulloch [crew chief] is working right underneath him, and I’m happy for him to get his first win. I’m also happy for Sheik [team co-owner Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thani] and to be able to get his first win the third race out.”

In Pro Stock, former world champion Jason Line was able to drive his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP past Allen Johnson and pick up his second win of the season on a holeshot, while Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Hector Arana drove past former world champion Matt Smith to pick up only his second career win.

UNITED ASSOCIATION TO SPONSOR CHICAGO AND ENGLISHTOWN EVENTS; ALSO MAJOR ASSOCIATE SPONSOR FOR DON PRUDHOMME RACING: United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) has secured title-rights sponsorship of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events in Chicago and Englishtown. UA also announced that it will partner with Don Prudhomme Racing as the major associate sponsor of the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Top Fuel dragster driven by Spencer Massey.

The United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals will be contested June 4–7, at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago, and the United Association NHRA SuperNationals will take place the following week, June 11–14, at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown.

In addition to sponsoring NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events in Chicago and Englishtown, UA will receive display space at three additional events: the O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Castrol at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois; the O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX at Heartland Park Topeka, Kansas; and the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.

NHRA AND HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK TEAM UP TO OFFER RELIEF DEALS FOR RACE FANS: Houston Raceway Park (HRP) and NHRA are giving Houston race fans more than one opportunity to see some of their favorite drivers at a discounted price for the 22nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals, March 27–29. Topping the exceptional deals is a half-price general admission ticket for Friday’s second professional qualifying session. No advance purchase is required, and there is no limit to the number of tickets sold at this price.

Fans can simply buy their tickets at the track any time after 4:00 p.m. on Friday. HRP and the NHRA are also offering free Friday general admission tickets to all active military personnel that can show proof of status and coupons for $8 off any adult general admission ticket for any day are available at participating O’Reilly Auto Parts stores throughout the area, while Houston-area Wingstop Restaurants will distribute $5 off general admission coupons for Friday’s action.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

O’REILLY NHRA SPRING NATIONALS, HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK, MARCH 27–29: Heading back to the Lone Star State, all four categories in the NHRA Full Throttle Series will compete for points toward the Countdown to the Championship. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Del Worsham (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, APRIL 2–5: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing returns to Las Vegas for the annual spring event. Defending event winners include Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); and Jason Line (Pro Stock).

SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS, ATLANTA DRAGWAY, APRIL 16–19: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing heads south for its annual stop in Georgia. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

HE SAID, SHE SAID

‘HAMMERING’ THE TREE: Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Hector “The Hammer” Arana on his win at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, only the second win of his career: “I knew I had the fastest bike and didn’t want to push the tree,” said Arana. “I wanted to win this race. I red-lighted on my last qualifying run Saturday and couldn’t sleep last night thinking about that. It feels awesome to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke, and I want to win some more.”

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

4: Number of Pro Stock Motorcycle riders that have won the season opening race in Gainesville, Florida, then gone on to win the second stop on the PSM schedule in Houston. Hector Arana hopes to become the fifth driver to follow up his Gatornationals win with another Wally in Houston.

  • John Myers, 1990
  • Dave Schultz, 1991
  • Craig Treble, 2002
  • Angelle Sampey, 2003, 2006

DID YOU KNOW…

…that reigning NHRA world champions Tony Schumacher, Cruz Pedregon and Jeg Coughlin will once again be honored as the Palms Casino Resort will circulate a limited number of $5 and $25 gaming chips featuring the three reigning champs when the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series heads back to Las Vegas for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. The chips will be made available April 2 in advance of a pre-race party taking place from 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. in the Key West Room at the popular hotel.