HIGHT DOMINATES E-TOWN QUALIFYING ENGLISHTOWN, NJ -- At the end of qualifying for the 41st annual United Association NHRA SuperNationals 2009 Funny Car champion Robert Hight ended the second day of qualifying the same way he ended the first day;...
HIGHT DOMINATES E-TOWN QUALIFYING
ENGLISHTOWN, NJ -- At the end of qualifying for the 41st annual United Association NHRA SuperNationals 2009 Funny Car champion Robert Hight ended the second day of qualifying the same way he ended the first day; as the quickest Funny Car on the property. Hight's final run of Saturday, 4.138 seconds, was good enough to grab three more qualifying bonus points to add to the three he earned Friday night with his blistering 4.025 second run. He held onto the No. 1 qualifier his third in a row and fifth of the season.
This was also his 37th No. 1 which ties him with veteran Tony Pedregon and Hall of Famer Kenny Bernstein for fourth place all-time for the Funny Car category.
While the 4.02 run was impressive Saturday night's run might have more championship implications for the Auto Club Ford Mustang team.
"That run was super important to my team. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock, (car chief) Eric Lane and I went back to our shop in Indy and we took inventory of clutch parts and different things. We looked at what we had for the rest of the season. We realized what we have been running we can't continue to run the rest of the season. We made a decision to set all that stuff aside and save it for the Countdown," said an excited Hight.
"You don't know what the new clutches will do or how a new batch will react. We know how well we have been running the last four races. We have enough of that inventory for all of the Countdown. We set that aside. We had one run worth for the night session in case we weren't qualified. We put the new stuff in the first run and smoked the tires. We put the normal stuff in for the night session and ran the 4.02."
"We decided after that we are not going back. We are going to put the new stuff in and figure it out. We smoked the tires the first run today and then we were low ET of the last session tonight. That is big. That gives Jimmy Prock something to tune by and who knows maybe the new stuff will turn out to be even better. You never know and that is what I like about Jimmy Prock. He is always trying and always changing. He is constantly trying to get better. He is not sitting still. Having a single tomorrow gives us another run to test and hopefully get ready for second round."
Hight will be unopposed in the first round for the second time in three races. In Topeka when Hight had a single run in the first round and his Jimmy Prock tuned Auto Club Ford Mustang set both ends of the Heartland Park Topeka track record with a 4.074 second, 310.70 mph lap.
When he was asked if the fans could expect to see another monster run tomorrow morning when there was the possibility of 20 extra bonus points for an ET national record Hight gave the media a clear answer on the possibility.
"We always try and make the best run we can considering the conditions. You never know if it will be cloudy and cool tomorrow. We have a chance with a back up for a national record and an extra 20 points. We just need to run two or three thousandths quicker than we ran the other night. If it is out there we will definitely try and do it. I will say this I don't believe we will go up there risking smoking the tires. We want to go down the track and have lane choice in the second round."
The John Force Racing Ford Mustangs showed that hot conditions will not deter them from putting up strong performance numbers as the three JFR Mustangs grabbed all six available qualifying bonus points in the final qualifying session.
Ashley Force Hood made her strongest run of the weekend on Saturday night setting her up for a first round match-up with fellow Ford backed Bob Tasca III. The run on Saturday night was important to Force Hood on a number of levels.
"We would have loved to have run better last night but we'll take these run in the heat. That is what we are going to need for tomorrow. When you come to a race you always want that number one spot. You want that low ET and high speed but more important you want that win on Sunday," said the No. 10 qualifier. "All our Castrol fans and sponsor people are here. We have a huge group here and we got to see them earlier today. We hope to put o a good show for them and we know they will be cheering us on."
Force Hood has a history of success at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. She has two wins at the divisional level when she campaigned her Top Alcohol Dragster and a SuperNationals runner-up finish.
The strongest and most motivated Funny Car driver in the pits has to be 14-time Full Throttle Funny Car champion John Force. The 129-time winner is celebrating his 25th year with major sponsor Castrol at a race track that he has a long national event and match race history.
"The late (track owner) Vinnie Napp was a good friend of mine. He brought me back here when they lost Jungle Jim years ago. At the end of the day the fans they fed me and they took care of me. When I wasn't home on my birthday they always brought me a cake. This was just the greatest place in the world," said an emotional Force from the top end after the final qualifying session.
"Then you have Castrol here with me for 25 years. Every win with (crew chief) Austin Coil but also every win with Castrol GTX motor oil. It is good for me to come here one and two with Robert and to have Ashley right there qualified. It's important for these Ford Mustangs, Mac Tools, BrandSource, Auto Club and Castrol. What is really cool is that my old hot rod is running. It's a Ford and we are all one Ford all of us."
"I want to give the fans a great show because they kept me out here all these years. They keep me motivated. It has been a great ride and people keep asking me if I am over it and I tell them no. Castrol has plans to take us on down the road and they love Ashley and (daughters) Courtney and Brittany are rising up through the ranks. You can't ask for more than what Robert Hight is giving them. He keeps outrunning me. I better go back there and check him on the scales," joked Force. "We need to see if he is too light or something. I am real proud of Robert. I want to thank all the fans for all the years and I don't plan on quitting."
Force will square off with journeyman Dale Creasy Jr. in the first round and if Force and Force Hood are victorious in the opening round they will meet in a Castrol GTX vs. Castrol GTX High Mileage second round battle. Hight is alone at the top of the ladder and barring a freak occurance he will race either No. 8 Cruz Pedregon or No. 9 Del Worsham in the second round.