September 22, 2023

Tasca, Ashley win delayed NHRA New England Nationals in Bristol

Bob Tasca III recorded his first win of the season at Bristol Dragway on Saturday, beating legendary Funny Car driver John Force in the final round of the NHRA New England Nationals, which was completed as part of a doubleheader weekend in Bristol.

Top Fuel’s Justin Ashley also took victory in the seventh of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Tasca and Ashley’s winning runs also gave each driver a victory in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge bonus race .

Due to weather, the eliminations of the Epping, NH race were postponed to this weekend as part of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals with Tasca taking the win in what is considered his home race. In the championship round against Force, Tasca ran 4.032 seconds at 322.96 mph in his 11,000 horsepower PPG Ford Mustang. It is Tasca’s first win of the season and 13th of his career.

Tasca defeated Ron Capps in the opening round of eliminations, which took place at Thunder Valley on Friday, then posted three wins on Saturday, including wins over Robert Hight and No. 1 qualifier Chad Green to reach the final round. Tasca, who defeated Force in a final round in Sonoma last year, quickly chased down the 16-time World Champion to take victory and the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge win in the process. But winning his home race – even if it was in Bristol – meant a lot to Tasca

“I would have gone to Alaska to get this trophy. It’s a win I’ve always dreamed of winning on a track I grew up on,” said Tasca. “It’s the first track I’ve ever done. But we just felt like this whole season was building for us. I am so impressed with Todd Okuhara, Aaron Brooks and the team.

“I went to Force before I got in the car and I said, ‘Force, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.’ Racing John Force in the final at his age to do what he’s doing here no one ever will I have so much respect for Jan there’s no one I stand up for like that If I have to win a race on the last lap and have to have John Force next to me for the New England Nationals trophy, it will be a long time before I forget that win.

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Force reached the finals for the first time this season, finishing 265th thanks to round wins against Tim Wilkerson, Alex Laughlin and JR Todd.

Top Fuel’s Ashley had a great day on Saturday in Bristol, racing to his third win this season and also third win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, beating Tony Schumacher by a holeshot in a thrilling final round. Ashley ran 3.846 seconds at 324.12 mph in his 11,000 horsepower Phillips Connect/Toyota dragster to beat off Schumacher’s 3.835 seconds at 323.65 mph based on a reaction time of 0.041 seconds.

It is also Ashley’s eighth career win and gives him another memorable moment at Thunder Valley after winning the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals a year ago. He doubled on Saturday and went through an impressive lineup of challengers, including reigning world champion Brittany Force, four-time world champion Steve Torrence and eight-time champion Schumacher. He’s the only multiple winner this season in Top Fuel and in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, and Ashley gets a chance to wipe the weekend clean on Sunday.

“This is so special. Every race is special, if you know you’re going into the weekend with a chance to win, but coming here and knowing we’ve got three chances to win and then making sure two are already that important,” said Ashley. “It’s just a testament to the group we have. Tomorrow we have work to do, but tonight we’re going to enjoy this one.

“It comes down to the work we do off-season. We knew competition would increase. The boys did what they had to do, found ways to improve, ways to get better. That consistency was really a result of the work put into the off-season.

Schumacher reached his first final this season, finishing 157th in his career thanks to wins over Shawn Langdon and Mike Salinas.

Eliminations for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals begin Sunday at 10 a.m. ET at Bristol Dragway.

Story originally appeared on Racer

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