Hight - Ford interview 2009-08-19

This Week in Ford Racing August 19, 2009 As time ticks away before the Countdown begins, Robert Hight, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car, finds himself in an unfamiliar position, sitting on the outside looking in on the top 10. With...

This Week in Ford Racing
August 19, 2009

As time ticks away before the Countdown begins, Robert Hight, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car, finds himself in an unfamiliar position, sitting on the outside looking in on the top 10. With only two races left before the season changes, Hight is 12th in the point standings heading into Reading, Pennsylvania, for the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals.

THERE WAS SOME TALK ABOUT YOU CHANGING FOR THE RACE IN READING AND RUNNING IN JOHN'S CAR? "Well, it's no secret we've been struggling with the Auto Club car all year. I was actually optimistic last week ago Monday, when we tested in Indy and had a great outing. Then we went over to Brainerd and had some mistakes, then rain shortened qualifying and we didn't make the show. With two races left, John figured the best shot to get Auto Club in the Countdown was to put it with his most experienced team and that's Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly. It also shakes things up a little bit. I'm a big baseball fan, and I remember back in the '80s Tommy Lasorda was the manager of the Dodgers, and he would actually go out and coach third base at certain games if his team was struggling, just to change things up to where he was visible, I guess. I even asked him that last year when we ran the Dodgers car and he said when things aren't going the way you want them to, sometimes you got to make some changes and shake things up, and that's all it takes to get things going in the right direction. I still believe in Jimmy Prock and my whole team. With John in the car, you never know, they might be the ones going on and winning the next race. It is our main goal to get the Auto Club Ford Mustang into the Countdown, and we have two races left. It's not an insurmountable amount of points that we have to make up so we're going for it and I'm excited."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS YEAR HAS BEEN KIND OF LIKE MURPHY'S LAW? WHAT CAN GO WRONG WILL? "It all goes back to the off-season and making too many changes, especially with the testing regulations that NHRA has put on. Your odds are better to stick with what you have if you can't do a lot of testing. It looks to me like the teams like Ashley, and Tony Pedregon, those guys definitely stayed with what they have, refined what they had, and are making it work. We've changed a lot and basically now we are back to where we started last year, and now it's really starting to coming around. It's right there, that car can win, I'm telling you it can. John made a statement the other day that just kind of fits our season, luck can't even find us right now. I guess guys just have those years, but in all honesty, the truth is, if you're in that Countdown, any one of those 10 drivers can win. Right now we're pulling out all of the stops and doing what we think is the best move to get me in that top 10 in the Auto Club. Then when we're there, anything can happen. Cruz Pedregon proved that last year. We definitely don't want to be on the outside watching this Countdown."

IS THERE ANY COMFORT IN THE FACT THAT IT ALL COMES DOWN TO INDY, KNOWING YOU HAVE WON THE LAST TWO OUT OF THREE TIMES YOU RACED THERE? "Yes, and the one year we didn't win I was in the Final and we had a part break on the super charger, and we could have won. I think we were ahead in the race, and it had already gone through the bad part in the track. We've been to the last three finals and won two of them, and it's the last race of the year. We don't know what car we'll be in come Indy, it depends on Reading, but no matter what car I'm in, we've all had good luck in Indy, whether it's Austin Coil or Jimmy Prock. We seemed to do well there. Jimmy won there with Gary Densham, besides me, there. We tested good there last week. Reading is going to be a big one for us, we need to gain some ground and maybe make it a little easier on ourselves come Indy time."

BEING ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE COUNTDOWN? "I'll be honest with you, in the beginning I was totally against the Countdown because the first year they had the Countodown, in '07, the Countdown caused me not to win the Championship. If it had been the old systems, I would have been the World Champ, but my attitude has changed. That's my only chance of salvaging this season this year, and we got to get in it this year. The Countdown could change what is a bad year up to now, into a possibility of winning the Championship. You can see both sides of the Countdown. I know that it's especially great for the fans because it creates a lot of different excitement, a lot of drama. It makes it come down to the wire. With the Countdown, unless you go out there and win the first four races then it's for all practical purposes over, but you don't see that in the Funny Car Class, it's so tight, and so close racing that I don't see anybody running away with it."

LAST YEAR YOU DROVE THE DODGER FUNNY CAR AND YOU ACTAULLY DID SOME THINGS WITH THE TEAM. WHAT'S IT LIKE TO WORK WITH THAT CLUB? "It's unbelievable. A year ago I got to throw out the first pitch. We talk about pressure as race- car drivers, and its pressure we put on ourselves, but when you stand out there on that field and look at that stadium with people filled up around you, you want to throw a decent pitch and not make yourself look stupid. It's a lot of pressure and I guess that's why I like sports, all kinds of sports, and especially guys that are good. I try to read books on successes in sports and learn about how they deal with things, and what makes them good and what makes them tick. It's exciting to be doing an event at Dodger Stadium and actually, I'm going [Wednesday] night. I'm taking my daughter and my wife and we're going to go watch the Dodgers and the Cardinals play."

ARE YOU NERVOUS ABOUT NOT MAKING THE COUNTDOWN? "I'm not nervous; we had a pretty good test session yesterday in that car. We just got to go out there and do what we know how to do and see where it all shakes out."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Robert Hight , Austin Coil