EPPING, N.H. --
Since then, the Hope, R.I. native has managed to race every car he's owned at the legendary track in Epping, N.H., except for his 8,000-horsepower Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang Funny Car.
But that will change soon enough as the long-anticipated thundering excitement of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series arrives at New England Dragway for the first time for the inaugural Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals, June 20-23.
The event, which has already drawn a huge fan response, is the 11th event of the 24-race season and will feature exciting side-by-side racing action in all four professional categories: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle. The event will be televised on ESPN2HD.
As for Tasca, the talented Funny Car standout can barely hide his anticipation for the NHRA's New England debut, which will give him the opportunity to power his 315-mph Funny Car down the track for the first time.
"I'm excited," Tasca said. "I think that's the first word that comes to mind, excited. I'm excited to be so close to my hometown with so many friends and family, and I'm excited to see New England bring in a sport I love as much as I do and be able to showcase it to someone whose never seen it in person. When you see it live in person, that's what really shows you what our sport is all about."
The NHRA has already received incredible fanfare before the first nitro Funny Car or Top Fuel dragster has even arrived on the property.
New England Dragway recently designated additional grandstand sections as reserved-seating areas as demand for the event continues to reach remarkable levels. Tasca has plenty of fond memories at the facility, and the NHRA's debut at his home track will certainly add another one.
"It's going to be a great race, the first of its kind for this area and a great one for fans to be a part of," said Tasca, who is currently 11th in the Funny Car points standings.
Tasca has advanced to one semifinal this season and currently trails 15-time Funny Car world champion John Force by just six points for 10th place in the race for the final spot in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, NHRA's six-race playoffs.
It's also a nod to the outstanding competition in Funny Car in 2013, offering remarkable parity at more than 300 mph. That will be evident at New England Dragway, where Tasca will be hoping to become the sixth different winner in the class before the season has even reached its halfway point.
"It's amazing," Tasca said. "It's a tribute to all the teams and all the hard work everyone has put in. We're seeing 300 mph race cars that are basically like Pro Stock, winning by thousandths of a second. Every little detail counts and as racers, we wouldn't want it any other way. It's survival of the fittest right now. We've seen cars at the top aren't always at the top when the Countdown's done so we have to do the best we can all the time. It's an exciting time for all of us."
Of course, winning at New England Dragway would provide one of the biggest thrills in Tasca's career, one that has included four wins in Funny Car.
"You want to win every race," Tasca said. "You say every win is the same, but to win in Epping would be pretty cool. I don't know much that could top that."
In Funny Car, every driver is poised to create a new chapter in Epping, including current points leader Matt Hagan, who has already won two races in a standout 2013 season. Standing in his way to becoming the first NHRA Funny Car driver in the winner's circle at New England Dragway are a host of talented drivers, including, sophomore-sensation Courtney Force, Cruz Pedregon, Johnny Gray, 15-time Funny Car world champ John Force, Ron Capps, defending world champ Jack Beckman.
Mike Edwards would like for his 2013 Pro Stock dominance to extend to New England Dragway, as he enters the race as the points leader and three-time event winner in 2013. The likes of Allen Johnson, Jeg Coughlin, Jason Line, Greg Anderson, Erica Enders-Stevens, Vincent Nobile will provide plenty of competition to try to keep that lead from growing, giving fans plenty of thrilling 200 mph racing in the factory hot rod category.
Hector Arana Jr. will carry the Pro Stock Motorcycle lead into Epping, but he will have plenty of challenges from top PSM riders like defending world champ Eddie Krawiec, Scotty Pollacheck, Hector Arana Sr., Andrew Hines, Englishtown winner Michael Ray and many others.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event is also a celebration of automotive performance and one of the most fan-friendly, driver-accessible events in all sports. When the series stops at New England Dragway, families can take advantage of a special ticket promotion: Children 12 and younger will be receive free general admission with a paid adult.
As always, every ticket purchased for the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals is an exclusive pit pass, allowing spectators to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their sophisticated hot rods between rounds. Fans can also meet many of the drivers in the pits and get autographs. Fans also won't want to miss the popular interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway.
Exciting competition in several classes in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also will be showcased during the event.
Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals qualifying will begin on Friday, June 21, with sessions at 4:45 and 6:45 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, June 22, at 12:15 and 2:15 p.m. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 23.