LAS VEGAS (March 27, 2012) --- Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team are hoping to stay on a hot streak at the 13th annual Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals this weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 2009 Funny Car champion has won the last two NHRA national events including a major win at the historic NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals two weeks ago. The three-time winner and defending Summitracing.com Nationals champion wants to continue his winning ways as he battles some of the toughest Funny Car teams in recent memory.
“We are off to a great start but the season is still really young. Now we are going to start getting into the grind and it will continue to be a battle every race. There are so many tough teams out there that you have to have your ‘A’ game every time you roll up to the water-box,” said Hight, a 25-time national event winner.
Hight has won multiple races each year he has competed in the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series behind the wheel of the Auto Club Ford Mustang. One streak that is still on the line is his history of leading the points for at least one race during each of his professional seasons. Hight is not concerned about extending that streak this week but rather at the end of the season.
“(Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and I have talked about having a good regular season and a good Countdown. We have done both but never in the same season. We have won a lot of races in the regular season but don’t have championships trophies to show for it. We dominated the Countdown in 2009 and won the championship. We would like to have one of those seasons where you consistently win race for a full year. I think we have the team to do that,” said Hight.
For Hight to dominate his biggest competition might come from his teammates at John Force Racing most notably current Full Throttle points leader Mike Neff and 15-time Funny Car champion John Force. Neff was appeared in two finals and narrowly missed making three finals in a row after getting edged out in the semis by Johnny Gray at the Gatornationals. Force opened the season with a win at the NHRA O’Reilly Winternationals before dropping first round races to two of the rising rookie stars, daughter Courtney Force and Alexis DeJoria.
“We have a great team at John Force Racing. Our crew chiefs and teams are constantly sharing information and ideas. Jimmy and Mike have a great relationship and when you add (John) Medlen, Dean (Antonelli), Danny (DeGennaro), Ron (Douglas) and Bernie (Fedderly) to the mix that is a lot of brain-power. We are constantly working on things at the Brownsburg shop and Jimmy and I talk all the time. I think we are getting better every time we run these Ford Mustangs down the track.”
Hight has been victorious at The Strip three times including an emotional win in 2007 following the tragic loss of teammate Eric Medlen during a testing accident at the Gatornationals. The win at this year’s Gators was also an emotional roller coaster considering the race was postponed one day and concluded on Monday five years after Medlen crashed on a Monday testing at Auto Plus Raceway at Gainesville.
“It was good to get John Medlen back in the winner’s circle in Gainesville. It was five years when we have a tragic accident and we lost Eric (in Gainesville). It means a lot to get him back in the winner’s circle,” concluded Hight.
With the win last year at The Strip at Las Vegas Hight became the first two-time event winner at the Strip and Hight is hoping to make a third trip to the winner’s circle. The performance numbers the Auto Club Ford Mustang put up on Sunday (and Monday) at the Gatornationals were nothing short of amazing and put Hight in a good position for a repeat win.
He recorded the quickest pass of each session posting 4.051 and 4.039 second runs on Sunday with whopping miles per hour of 316.38 and 317.12 both track records. On Monday crew chief Jimmy Prock gave Hight a 4.044 second tune up that gave him lane choice over Johnny Gray. In the final both Prock and Johnny Gray crew chief Rob Wendland dialed their Funny Cars back a little too far causing both 8,000 horsepower Funny Cars to smoke the tires.
Hight wasn’t expecting any surprises but the veteran driver was ready for anything. He pedaled his Auto Club Mustang to the finish line with a time of 4.866 seconds, his slowest time of the event but good enough for the historic win.
“I wasn’t expecting that (smoking tires) at all. Jimmy said he was going to back it off because the track was warming up. We were trying to run 4.08 or something. I think he backed it off too much and it shook. You saw Morgan Lucas run 3.74 right behind us and that showed you how good the track was. We probably would have been better off to leave it like it was and try and run 4.03 or 4.04. It really doesn’t matter how you get here as long as you get the win light,” concluded Hight.