DALLAS, TX – Robert Hight and his AAA Texas Ford Mustang raced to the No. 4 provisional position Friday night at the 25th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. Hight blasted down the all-concrete race track in 4.183 seconds at 287.66 mph. He was paired with provisional No. 1 Cruz Pedregon who tripped the finish line timer at 4.129 seconds, 299.25 mph. With header flames shooting nearly eight feet out of their respective Funny Cars the fans enjoyed quite a show.
“Normally you would not be happy to be No. 4 especially in the Countdown but in this instance I am happy because everybody that is (qualified) ahead of me is behind me in points or they are not in the Countdown. As tricky as this place was and when you consider the position we were in after the first run today it had to go. Now (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) looked at that and he really believes what Cruz ran is achievable if you wanted to push that hard. We will pick it up everywhere. It is not that bad. We would have liked to have gotten some qualifying bonus points today but I bet you see us getting points tomorrow,” said Hight a three-time Fall Nationals No. 1 qualifier.
Hight was buoyed by his good run under the best conditions of the day. He knew that posting a solid time would give his AAA Texas Mustang team more freedom to race hard.
“It is do or die. It is all or nothing. Friday night going down the track takes the pressure off tomorrow. We can go out there and be a little aggressive. We weren’t in that position in Charlotte. We weren’t qualified after the night session. So on Saturday we had to go out there and we were behind the eight ball. We had to limp it down there and it was too slow the first run and the second run it was kind of in between and we lost lane choice. We are going to have lane choice here. This is a track historically where lane choice is important. Goal number one was getting solidly in the top half so we would have lane choice in the first round; done. Now we need to get some qualifying bonus points tomorrow and gain on the leaders,” said Hight.
John Force opened the day of qualifying in oven-like conditions during the first session by making the third quickest run of the day at that point. He picked up one bonus qualifying bonus point for his effort. In the second session Force’s Castrol GTX High Mileage mixed up cylinders at the top end and the winningest driver in the history of the NHRA was manhandling his hot rod but it clipped a timing cone at the top end and his run was disqualified. Luckily Force’s time the earlier session, 4.407 seconds, 254.90 mph, stood up as one of the twelve quickest for the day and will carry over to Saturday.
Two-time Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner Ashley Force Hood and her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang will head into Saturday as the provisional No. 12 qualifier. She smoked the tires in the second qualifying session. In her first session Force Hood covered the 4.713 seconds and she carried that time over to Saturday.
All three JFR Ford Mustangs will carry times over into the final day of qualifying which will get underway at noon tomorrow.