Every year millions of people travel to Las Vegas and try to turn their luck around. This weekend at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Australian Pro Stock racer Shane Tucker will be looking to continue to build on his positive momentum from his east coast success.
Three weeks ago Tucker raced his Auzmet/StructGlass Chevrolet to the quarterfinals at the historic Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. It was a big weekend for the Rob Tucker Racing endeavor due to massive changes in the off-season which saw the team join forces with Nick Ferri, the world champion engine builder.
“We struggled at the end of last season with our motors and we knew we needed more power,” said Shane Tucker. “Joining up with Nick Ferri was a major decision for us but we are seeing the returns on that investment. The Gatornationals was our best weekend in a long time. We made four runs in qualifying that kept getting quicker and we weren’t hurting anything on the motor. That was fantastic for our team.”
At the Gatornationals Tucker qualified 14th and used his driving skills to get off the stripe first in the first round. His starting line reaction time advantage of .048 to .112, held off No. 3 qualifier Matt Hartford for the win. His winning time and speed, 6.593 seconds at 209.26 mph were enough to get the win by .04 seconds. The elapsed time and speed combo was also a season best for Tucker.
In the quarterfinals against Kenny Delco Tucker took another starting line advantage and nearly stole another win. The Australian was .032 versus Delco’s .075 and at the stripe Delco’s elapsed time of 6.555 seconds against Tucker’s 6.610 seconds gave him the win by about four feet at over 210 mph.
“I have a lot of confidence in the team heading into Las Vegas. I was so proud of how we raced in Florida,” said Tucker. “This team really pulled together and we are making huge strides. It is fun to be at the track with my dad (Crew Chief Rob Tucker) and mom (Janine), and just race hard and have a good time. We are taking this very seriously and now that we have the motors moving in the right direction we can fine tune some other areas to be even more competitive.”
This weekend will be only the third time Tucker will experience the four-wide racing format and a first for the young Aussie in Las Vegas. In 2016 and 2017 Tucker was ousted in the first quad at the Charlotte Four-Wide National event. This is just the second year for the four-wide format at The Strip and Tucker is eager to get back on the track at this unique race.
“The four-wide racing really keeps you on your toes. I think it is even tougher in Pro Stock because reaction time is such a key element and you are racing against three other tough competitors. I do love the challenge and I think we will do very well this weekend. I just want to keep improving as a team and driver and we will be in great shape,” added Tucker.
Tucker will be joined by a group of NHRA superstars at the annual NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series FanFest on Thursday night at the New York, New York casino and resort. This free event will take place on the hotel’s Brooklyn Bridge Plaza and feature both a driver Q&A and autograph session from 7-8 p.m. with NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series stars