CLERMONT—Negatives sometimes do turn into positives. At least it worked that way for Bob Tasca.
"Ruling things out," said the veteran funny car driver of what he gets the most out of a practice session, where the crew chiefs and mechanics have their way with the machine to push their speeds to the limits.
As Tasca found out Wednesday at O'Reilly Raceway Park, it's often give and take.
"The first run we made, we made a sharp left turn towards the wall so that didn't work," said Tasca of his first time out in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang. "Second run we made was awesome, its one of the quickest runs we ever had to 60 feet on a 110 degree race track."
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Its a chance to learn what they can't do that tells them what they can do before they take the strip Labor Day weekend for the U.S Nationals, but its not something they can grow accustomed to. NHRA cut the amount of tests Top Fuel and Funny Car teams can have to just four per season, as an attempt by the series to cut costs.
"So everyone is so valuable," Tasca said of the Wednesday test at O'Reilly Raceway Park. ". It gives us the opportunity to run on a premier track with conditions that we're gonna see next weekend, and ultimately let us try somethings so on race day we can come up tothe line with the best tuneup we have."
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This lack of testing is opposite of what races in Indianapolis traditionally have, especially those at the motor speedway. IndyCar teams have practices spread out over two-and-a-half weeks in the month of May while NASCAR a few practice sessions during the weekend of the race, before and after qualifying.
Due to the tire problems during the 2008 Brickyard 400, multiple teams got the chance to run at the speedway throughout the spring.
"One thing that we don't have that a lot of the other series have is we have qualifying and not practice and they get to practice a lot," said Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas. "It's nice for us to come out here and do this and actually get a chance to compete for the championship and have a car that can race on Monday."
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Getting there will be important for most of the drivers, as the US Nationals is the final event before the Countdown to Ten, the NHRA's version of NASCAR's chase. John Force, Antron Brown, Ashley Force Hood and others were at O'Reilly Raceway park throughout Wednesday hoping to solidify their title chase chances.
"Due to the fact that there's not as many cars going down the track like a standard race weekend, the track is going to be a little bit more marginal than it would be during a race weekend," said Lucas. "If you can make a car go down now, you're doing something."