LAS VEGAS, NV – It is too early to say Robert Hight’s Auto Club Ford Mustang has turned its season around but Friday night’s performance was another strong step in the right direction.
Under the lights at the 14th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals Hight blasted to the provisional No. 1 spot with a 4.053 second run and grabbed his first provisional top spot of 2013. It has been eighteen races since Hight was the No. 1 qualifier.
“I’ll be honest, you never know about Cruz Pedregon. That car, he’s liable to go out there tomorrow, in that heat, it has that potential (to run low ET).
I’m never gonna say never, but I think it’s pretty safe looking at the weather forecast,” said Hight. The past two years Hight has won the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals and last year he took the title as the No. 1 qualifier, a first for this event.
The driver from Yorba Linda, California loves racing here at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I want to race in Vegas more. It’s been a long time (since we’ve been on top of the qualifying). We kinda went back to basics and, in Gainesville, I kinda thought we turned the corner and we were on our way. Then we had to wait two off weekends and that’s just no fun,” said Hight.
“When you think you’re turning this thing around, you want to get right back out here and prove it. John Force has made some unbelievable calls on my team. He said, we weren’t going to wait until the end of the year or until the Countdown to fix this thing.
Mike Neff (crew chief on John Force’s Ford) and Courtney Force, those two teams in our own camp are doing well. So it’s pretty exciting to see these cars responding. I believe we’re back as a team.
This is a great equalizer out here right now. Its 20-30 degrees hotter than what we’ve been racing in, so the competition, everything is changed from the first three races.”
“I knew it was a decent run. I was on the radio saying, “what’d it run, what’d it run?” but I guess the radio button was stuck. They could hear me and they could hear the car coasting down.
The rear end makes all kind of noise in the shutdown area. Then, one of the NHRA guys, told me what it ran and I said, I hope this guy knows what he’s talking about.”
Courtney Force ended Friday’s qualifying attempts in the No. 2 spot, right behind teammate and brother-in-law, Robert Hight.
The 2012 Auto Club Rookie of the Year put a 4.55 on the board during the first qualifying pass. Force had to lift off the throttle after her Traxxas Ford Mustang started moving around at about 600 feet off the starting line.
She came back in session two and posted an impressive 4.06 ET and jumped to the No. 2 position.
“After only having two sessions completed, we have a 4.06 to work with going into Saturday, and we can build on that. We’re excited to be running well right off the bat here in Vegas.
It’s great for our Traxxas Ford Mustang team and John Force Racing to have two cars in the top two spots just at the day’s end on Friday. I’m excited that Robert has his Auto Club Mustang running good and I hope that we can continue through tomorrow,” said Force.
The 24-year-old picked up two bonus points for the second-quickest pass on session two, and is looking forward to qualifying on Saturday.
“Being in that No. 2 spot gave us two bonus points, which we’ve all seen add up and at the end of the year, you’re wishing you had accumulated more in qualifying.
It’s comforting to know we’re No. 3 in the Funny Car point standings, and we’re also racking up those little bonus points along the way,” said Force.
“We’re hoping to just continue tomorrow and progress and make some more consistent runs so we can be ready for Sunday.”
John Force and the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang came out of the trailer with a great run on Friday posting the fourth quickest run of the first session, a 4.203 second pass.
In the second session Force’s Mustang made a solid run but it moved out of the groove and shaved elapsed time off the 15-time Funny Car champion’s run. Force’s first run was solid enough to hold up as the provisional 12th quickest run.
Tonight under the lights the quickest Force ever, Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, made her best runs of the young season posting a 3.855 second pass at 325.37 mph.
At the time of the run it was the third quickest Top Fuel run of the event and eventually settled in as the No. 8 elapsed time by far her best provisional qualifying spot.
“My first run out we were really excited about. I ran a 3.94 and we were really happy with that. It was a good run. We got down the track our first pass of the weekend, and did so in hot weather conditions,” said Force, the only rookie Top Fuel driver entered at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.
“We ran a 3.85 on our second pass and were super excited about that. We ended up No. 8. My team I know is happy with that because these last few races we wouldn’t get our Castrol Edge dragster qualified until our last qualifying shot on Saturday.
That put a lot of stress on my crew chiefs and my team and me as a driver, so it’s nice to know that I’m in the top half of the field going into Saturday and we still get two more qualifying sessions before race day.”
The rookie driver has qualified for the first three races of the season, Pomona1 (15th), Phoenix (13th) and Gainesville (13th) and her quickest elapsed time of the season was Phoenix’s pass at 3.831 seconds.
The rookie of the year contender was thrilled with the performance of the Castrol EDGE Top Fuel dragster. Going into Saturday’s final day of qualifying the Dean Antonelli and Eric Lane tuned Top Fuel dragster will be the solid position to tuning for Sunday as opposed to tuning to get into the field.