LAS VEGAS, NV --- Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team continued their hot streak at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway racing to the provisional No. 1 spot at the 13th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Hight powered his Jimmy Prock tuned Ford Mustang Funny Car across the finish line in 4.13 2 seconds at an amazing 310.41 mph.
“Based on what everyone ran in the first run you had to be cautious. You had to be sure you got down there. Jimmy told me he thought it would run 4.12 or 4.13. It is really cool right now because he really has a handle on this Funny Car. It says a lot when you can go from a place like Gainesville and Phoenix and then here where we are half way in elevation to Denver here,” said Hight. “Good job to Jimmy Prock and my guys. You can see the confidence in him. As a driver you feel good because you are not sitting in the car watching someone make a lot of changes and being nervous. He goes in there and makes a change and boom it runs good. It is a lot of fun to run this thing right now.”
“All four of our Ford Mustangs are qualified. With the winds coming who know what tomorrow will bring. I really hope we get to run because we have (crew chief legends) Dale Armstrong and Ron Armstrong and we have some things we want to test. We are going to use the first run tomorrow to do some testing. We are definitely going to test on Monday. We have some things that maybe will catapult us out here a little bit,” added Hight.
For the back to back winner getting back to the track was key for the 2009 Funny Car champion.
“It is great to be back racing. Two weeks off is too long. We won Phoenix and we had two weeks off. We won Gainesville and we had two weeks off. I don’t want any more time off I want to keep racing,” said Hight. “Last weekend the Ford guys took me under their wing and I got to go to the NASCAR race. I was able to get in with the No. 16 car and watch them practice and qualify. I had the radio on and was able to watch and compare it to what we do. As a former crew man it was pretty cool and totally different.”
After two sessions of qualifying all four of the John Force Racing Mustang Funny Cars are qualified going into Saturday’s final day of qualifying. Teammates Mike Neff (4.186 seconds) and John Force (4.196 seconds) hold down the No. 5 and No. 6 provisional positions and Rookie of the Year candidate Courtney Force is No. 11 with a 4.274 second pass.
“It’s always a good day when you put your cars in the top 12. Robert is low (ET of the day) and Neff is right behind him there within a few. I got in with a 4.19 and Courtney ran a 4.27. That’s a new car she’s in this race,” said 15-time Funny Car champion John Force.
Mike Neff has the points lead coming into Las Vegas and the two-time finalist is please with where he ended the first day of racing. For the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang it is all about going rounds on Sunday something Neff has been so far very successful.
“To end up fifth at the end of the day today is great. We were definitely trying to run better the second run. The first run was really tricky. That was the hottest track we’ve seen this year, but we made it down the track. It put a cylinder out and didn’t run as good as I would have liked, but to be in the top 4 after Friday, I’m always good with that; not having to sweat it out on Saturday. I just look forward to getting two more shots tomorrow,” Neff said.
In the second session Courtney Force was paired with fellow Ford racer Tim Wilkerson and her run of 4.274 seconds was solid but put the rookie in a tough spot as she had to wait for a number of Funny Cars to run before she could relax.
“I raced here in Top Alcohol Dragster and I tested here last year in Funny Car so I’m a little familiar with the track. It’s a little different when there are a bunch of other cars running on it and obviously the heat and everything is changing it, but that’s just something I’m learning from. Each track you go to is going to be a little bit different, each lane is different and I’m working to figure out the differences and how to drive my car so I can get a better run out of it,” said Courtney Force. “It’s been good. The first run was a little tricky. It went out and smoked the tires. Last run was a little bit better in the left lane. It went down the track from A to B and that’s all I can really ask for as a driver. It got over towards the wall a little bit, but I drove it back in the groove and got it to the other end. It wasn’t the best run of the weekend, but it got us in, which is all that matters for our sponsors: Traxxas, BrandSource, Auto Club, Castrol, Ford, Mac Tools and Freightliner.”
The first qualifying session was filled with tire smoking passes as all the teams tried to get a handle on the race track. Hight was the quickest JFR Mustang of that session with a pedestrian 4.872 second pass.
“Everybody struggled a little with the first run. I think everyone was erring on the side of caution for the night run. I think we were just a couple of little adjustments on that first run from making a 4.15 run and if we could have done that we could have really gotten after it tonight.”