Tasca Speeds To No. 1 Spot In Return From COVID-19

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Bob Tasca III was the top qualifier in the Funny Car class for the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Shawn Crose Photo)
Bob Tasca III was the top qualifier in the Funny Car class for the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Shawn Crose Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – In his first race since February, Funny Car’s Bob Tasca III powered to the No. 1 qualifying spot on Saturday during the final session of the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals at Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Tasca missed the first race of the NHRA’s season restart last weekend while recovering from COVID-19, but was cleared by doctors to return to competition on Saturday. He followed by picking up his fifth No. 1 qualifier with a run of 3.991 seconds at 319.07 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang, making the only three-second run in the class on Saturday.

Tasca, who was outside the qualifying field heading into the final session, will race Alex Miladinovich the first round of eliminations as he seeks his first victory of the year.

“That’s a welcome back to NHRA drag racing,” said Tasca, who has six career Funny Car wins. “Being the No. 17 qualifier going into that last session, I’ve just got so much confidence in (crew chief) Mike Neff and these guys. I’ve been in that position before and as a driver, you just don’t want to screw it up. Once it went by half track, that thing was singing.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., who qualified first a week ago, took the second spot after going 4.017 seconds at 300.86 mph and Tim Wilkerson is third thanks to his 4.034-second run at 317.05 mph. Last week’s winner, Matt Hagan, qualified 13th, while points leader Jack Beckman took sixth in qualifying with a run of 4.059 seconds at 299.66 mph.

Top Fuel’s Clay Millican qualified No. 1 in the Top Fuel class. Millican impressed in his 11,000-horsepower Parts Plus dragster, running 3.829 seconds at 317.34 mph to pick up his first No. 1 qualifier of the year and 24th in his career.

Millican will face Todd Paton to open eliminations and will be looking for his first final round and victory of the season. Leah Pruett qualified a spot behind with a strong 3.850-second run at 314.31 mph and Shawn Langdon, a world champ in the class, took third in qualifying after going 3.855 seconds at 314.46 mph.

Points leader Doug Kalitta, who has advanced to the final round at all three races in 2020, will start race day from sixth following his 3.907-second pass and 308.35 mph, while last week’s winner, Billy Torrence, qualified 10th and will meet his son, Steve, the defending world champ, in the opening round.

In the season-opener for the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series Presented by J&A Service, Khalid AlBalooshi raced to the top spot with a run of 5.814 seconds at 249.07 mph in his ProCharger-powered Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro. It is the seventh No. 1 qualifier for Balooshi, who will meet rookie Justin Jones in the opening round of eliminations.

Jeffrey Barker qualified second with a 5.838 seconds at 248.48 mph and veteran Clint Satterfield is third after going 5.848 seconds at 242.36 mph. Defending world champ Stevie Jackson begins his title defense from the No. 12 spot with his run of 5.909 seconds at 242.89 mph.