HIGHT WINS ATLANTA MOVES TO 3RD IN POINTS; JFR NOW 1-2-3 COMMERCE, GA --- Robert Hight's Auto Club Ford Mustang proved that it was not just the temperature that was hot at the 30th annual Summit Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals cruising to the...
HIGHT WINS ATLANTA MOVES TO 3RD IN POINTS; JFR NOW 1-2-3
COMMERCE, GA --- Robert Hight's Auto Club Ford Mustang proved that it was not just the temperature that was hot at the 30th annual Summit Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals cruising to the win, his second in a row, at Atlanta Dragway. As expected based on qualifying performance Hight, the no. 2 qualifier, had to defeat teammate and no. 1 qualifier Ashley Force Hood in the final round. Even though he had a dominant car all day he was still leery of facing Force Hood.
"Her dad beat me one night late here (a race Hight lost by .002 of a second) so I was getting nervous racing Ashley. You start thinking back to those times where John (Force) beat me and she has a great race car. She has been in the final the last two years. No matter what it was going to be a Force win," said Hight. "We are leaving (Atlanta) 1-2-3 in points. That is pretty awesome. We have had a great week here. All the pro 2009 champions went to a Coca-Cola banquet and we got to see where they make Full Throttle and it was a really nice night. We just had a great time and they were very gracious to us. I also want to thank the Safety Safari. They worked in this heat all weekend. They kept this race track perfect. How about my Ford Mustang, it ran 4.18, 4.18, 4.19 and 4.18 today."
This was the 32nd all John Force Racing final but only the fifth where John Force was not represented. The last all JFR final was last year's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals where Force Hood defeated Hight. Earlier this year John Force and Force Hood finished 1-2 at the Inaugural Four-Wide NHRA Nationals in Charlotte where they defeated Ron Capps and Matt Hagan.
After his first round win over Melanie Troxel Hight gave all the credit to his crew chief Jimmy Prock and the crew putting his Auto Club Ford Mustang together.
"Jimmy Prock has been spending a lot of sleepless nights worrying about this engine. We weren't really able to work on our combination getting down the track. We worked on some piston rings and some different things. It all started Sunday morning of St. Louis and this thing has been on a string ever since. Good job Jimmy Prock and all the Auto Club guys," said Hight.
"This Ford Mustang has been unbelievable this weekend. We only missed this race track one run and it was on a killer run that run before it shook loose. Prock has this car tuned up to run 4.18, 4.18, 4.19 and 4.18 again today was awesome. That is kind of unheard of in these fuel cars. With the heat like this it was a great race track. The NHRA and the Safety Safari did an unbelievable job. Sometime I dread coming to these hot race tracks but I hope we get some more heat because right now Jimmy Prock definitely has a handle on this Mustang."
In the pressroom Hight compared the start of this season to the end and start of his 2009 championship season.
"We were struggling last year at the start of the season. We gave my team all their champ rings this weekend. When we gave them to them I said, 'Guys let's go out here and race like champions.' We earned it last year and I was very excited about going into this season considering how we finished last season. Sure enough we start struggling and then you start looking back to last year thinking is this going to be another one of those years where you don't get it turned around. Two wins in a row shows it is not a fluke and that this Auto Club Ford Mustang is for real."
Hight's ET dominance now extends to seven rounds in a row where the Auto Club Ford Mustang has been the quickest Funny Car of the session. Hight dispatched Troxel, fellow Ford racer Tim Wilkerson, and then Valvoline-sponsored Don Schumacher Racing driver Jack Beckman. Hight also defeated Beckman in the final in St. Louis two weeks ago.
Ashley Force Hood's road to the final round was equally as tough. She caught one break in the first round when Jeff Diehl broke and she was able to make a single to advance to the next round. That run proved critical to boosting the no. 1 qualifier's confidence for the rest of the day.
"Considering we went into race day as the no. 1 qualifier but we really only made that one really good pass on Friday night I was not super confident. The other times in the heat we did not get down the track. I was a little nervous going into race day. I didn't know if (co-crew chiefs) Ron (Douglas) and Guido (Dean Antonelli) were testing. I went into today thinking for sure I would have to pedal my Mustang just based on our qualifying performance," said the 2009 championship runner up. "Ron and Guido proved me wrong again. They had a great tune up for race day. I don't know if we would have done anything differently. The track might have been able to take a little bit more but it is such a fine line you have to walk. You want to get down the track every session and that is what we did. We made it to the final and we'll leave her 1-2-3 in points. We moved up three spots in the points. We are pretty happy with that."
After the first round bye Force Hood had to bring her "A game" to the starting line as she faced the current Funny Car points leader and 14-time Funny Car champion, her father John Force. Both Mustangs launched together but Force Hood's Castrol GTX Mustang had a little more at the top end and she took a close win, 4.200 to 4.206.
In the semis Force Hood pulled up beside one of the top performing Mustangs of the day driven by Bob Tasca III but powered by the Force Racing developed BOSS 500. Tasca had recorded the second quickest run of the first and second elimination rounds. She gave up lane choice but she used a reaction time advantage to more than make up for a slight performance shortfall. She moved to the final running 4.241 seconds versus Tasca's 4.232 seconds.
Team leader John Force was disappointed to have his day end early but he knew he did not take too big of a points hit and he was pleasantly surprised at the end of the day when he received the updated points.
"I didn't know until a few minutes ago that we were 1-2-3 in the points. I didn't get hurt much in the points maybe a round. Our race cars are running and I am excited about that. Bobby Tasca III with Wilkerson is starting to run. He (Tasca) has bought some parts from us. We always said we are all one Ford," said the 129-time national event winner.
"I am not worried about either one of them. Robert is the champion and Ashley ran for it right with him. She has been in two finals this year and she'll get a win soon. I think we have five wins out of eight and (Tim) Wilkerson won in Gainesville so that is six of eight for Ford. Bobby Tasca's Mustang is starting to fly. (Tasca) and Ashley was just a great close race just like me and Ashley. Somebody had to win."