The Ford Motor Company returned to fulltime Funny Car racing last Wednesday with a big bang – literally.

Bob Tasca’s car grenaded during a practice run during the first day of Nitro Spring Training, then had a mishap at the starting line Thursday. However, the Rhode Island auto dealer and staunch Ford associate at the racetrack and in business wasn’t angry.

“We just broke an intake valve. It’s just one of those things in these cars where everything in the car is brand-new. I mean, brand new, so you can’t blame it on an old part. It is what it is. Things happen and we’ll bounce back from it,” he said afterward. “The car made two great runs. I mean, up until the time it broke, the intake valve, it was some of the quickest 60’ times of my career. So, I mean, the car ran fantastic. And the first run, we shut it off at 330’, our planned shutoff. And the second run, we were outpacing the first run substantially, and it just broke an intake valve. So, hey listen, that’s nitro racing.”

Then Thursday morning, he attempted to make a run but had another problem following the burnout. Fuel gushed from the pipes, and he was unable to make the pass.

“It was a barrel valve. How we adjust the barrel valve, we got a whole new fuel system on this car, and the barrel valve was a little too close to center. We’re working on stuff with reaction time and try to get a quicker light, but we were too close on the barrel valve setting. So after the burnout, the barrel valve didn’t close all the way. It was too close to the edge. It was letting too much fuel in. So that’s where the fuel was pumping out of the pipes,” Tasca said. “We could have run it. It wouldn’t have hurt anything now that we know, but you’re already at a testing and that’s no reason to run the car. So there was no harm, no foul. We had made the right adjustment, and we’ll go back out. It was something we were trying and it was just too close to the edge. But this is testing, right? If you’re going to do something different, you might as well do something different now. This is the time to do it.

“We’ve got plenty of parts. We’ve got plenty of pieces,” he said Thursday. “We’ll make a couple of good runs today, and we’ll make some runs on Friday and Saturday, and we’ll be ready for Pomona.”

One major plus for Tasca is his crew has a lot of experience.

“Got a very talented group of guys, with Eric Lane and Nick Casertano and John Boyce. All these guys except one have anywhere from three to 15 years’ worth of experience, so we’ve got a great team,” Tasca said. “We’ve got a great team. We’ve got great funding. We’ve got great engineering behind us with Ford, which is what we really were lacking for the last three years. Not having Ford part of my deal was tough.

“But we’re in good shape, so we really want to come out swinging,” he said. “I mean, this isn’t a team that should take four or five races to catch our stride. We should be able to come out in Pomona and run well. We have an expectation level of improving at each race because we are a new team, but we’re not a rookie team. I know how to drive a race car, Eric knows how to tune them, and these guys know how to build them.”

Acquiring crew chief Lane, whose most recent experience was helping Ron Capps win a Funny Car championship two years ago as an assistant to Rahn Tobler, was a coup.

“He’s a tremendous asset to the program. I’m really excited. Never been more excited about a season than I am right now. Looking forward to it.”