Bob Tasca III powered to his first Funny Car win in nearly seven years, knocking off John Force in the final round on Sunday at the 19th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
Mike Salinas also picked up the victory in Top Fuel at the 11th of 24 events during the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Both Salinas and Tasca advanced to the final round in Bristol a year ago before falling, but it was a different story for each driver in 2019.
Tasca, who last won late in the 2012 season, denied Force his 150th career win, going 4.008-seconds at 316.23 mph in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang to beat Force’s 4.155 at 287.05 and claim his fifth career win and first in 100 races.
Tasca, who qualified third, beat James Campbell, Robert Hight and back-to-back Bristol winner Ron Capps, who beat Tasca in the final round a year ago, to reach his 13th career final round.
“It was just a hard-fought effort,” said Tasca, who improved to ninth in Funny Car points. “I knew it would be a slugfest against Force, but I love racing John. It was probably one of the biggest wins in my career. We had to build this car from scratch, but the chemistry on this team is good and I’ve never had a race car like this. It’s fast and the guys put me in a position to win. I love racing here. There’s so much history with my family racing in Thunder Valley and I really wanted to win this one. It was just a great day.”
Force knocked off Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. to reach his 252nd final round, but he will now have to wait until next weekend in Norwalk to try and get his 150th career win.
In Top Fuel, Salinas snapped the five-race winning streak of points leader and defending world champion Steve Torrence thanks to a final-round pass of 3.836 at 325.69 in his Scrappers Racing dragster. Torrence, who had won 22 straight rounds before Sunday’s loss in the finals, went 3.892 at 287.60, slowing at the finish line.
After winning his first career Top Fuel race earlier this year at Las Vegas, Salinas picked up round wins against Scott Palmer, Antron Brown and No. 1 qualifier Doug Kalitta on Sunday en route to his second career win.
“It’s kind of surreal what is happening,” said Salinas, who jumped to third in Top Fuel points. “The guys are amazing, they’re doing a great job and we’re having a lot of fun. You can’t take anybody lightly out here. I have all the confidence in this team and it’s just amazing to be in the seat with these guys. Alan Johnson and the crew, they just know how to do it and it’s just amazing, it really is.”
Torrence, who maintains a commanding points lead, reached his 48th career final round thanks to wins against Pat Dakin, Clay Millican and Dom Lagana.
Despite just slipping into the field as the No. 16 qualifier, Jose Gonzalez raced to his first win of the year on Sunday during E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service action at Bristol Dragway. The series was presented by the Real Pro Mod Association (RPM) in Thunder Valley, and it marked the seventh of 12 races during the 2019 season.
Gonzalez went 5.848-seconds at 256.06 mph in his turbocharged Q80 Racing Camaro to knock off Bob Rahaim, who ran 5.914 at 238.72 in his nitrous-powered Camaro. It is the second career win for Gonzalez, who qualified 16th before picking up round wins against No. 1 qualifier Todd Tutterow, Brandon Snider and Erica Enders to reach his fourth career final round.
“I honestly didn’t think we were going to make it into the field and here we are in the winner’s circle from the No. 16 spot,” said Gonzalez, who moved to fourth in points. “This Q80 Racing team really works their butts off and they have given me this car I have complete trust in every time I go down the track. I knew if I could just get into the field I could make it happen and here we are.”
Rahaim, who qualified 14th, reached his sixth career final round in the class with wins against defending world champion Mike Janis, Khalid AlBalooshi and Sidnei Frigo. Stevie “Fast” Jackson maintains the points lead as the class started the second half of its 2019 season in Bristol.
Sunday’s final results from the 19th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at
Bristol Dragway. The race is the 11th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Mike Salinas, 3.836 seconds, 325.69 mph def. Steve Torrence, 3.892 seconds, 287.60 mph.
Funny Car — Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.008, 316.23 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.155, 287.05.
Top Fuel Harley — Tii Tharpe, JTR, 6.426, 218.90 def. Bob Malloy, Buell, 6.469, 193.40.
Pro Modified — Jose Gonzalez, Chevy Camaro, 5.848, 256.06 def. Bob Rahaim, Camaro, 5.914, 238.72.
Super Stock — Joe Santangelo, Chevy Camaro, 10.282, 127.41 def. Ricky Decker, Camaro, 9.985, 133.17.
Stock Eliminator — Monty Bogan, Chevy Camaro, 11.094, 116.06 def. Mike Cotten, Duster, 11.173, 117.56.
Super Comp — Todd Ewing, Dragster, 14.155, 98.66 def. Ray Miller Jr., Dragster, Broke – No Show.
Super Gas — Ray Sawyer, Chevy Camaro, 9.927, 165.60 def. Michelle Furr, Chevy Corvette, 9.929, 153.54.
Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com — Johnny Brooks, Chevy II, 7.953, 163.79 def. Dylan Stott, Ford Mustang, 6.714, 206.80.
Mountain Motor Pro Stock — Todd Hoerner, Chevy Camaro, 6.425, 219.36 def. Frank Gugliotta, Camaro, 6.998, 156.44.