HIGHT AMAZES AT MAC TOOLS US NATIONALS, GRABS SECOND INDY WIN -JFR Turns Focus to Countdown to 1- INDIANAPOLIS -- Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang team capped a tough day of racing with his second win at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
HIGHT AMAZES AT MAC TOOLS US NATIONALS, GRABS SECOND INDY WIN
-JFR Turns Focus to Countdown to 1-
INDIANAPOLIS -- Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang team capped a tough day of racing with his second win at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Hight defeated Frank Hawley, teammate Mike Neff, points leader Tim Wilkerson, and Jack Beckman to get the win. After a tough couple of days qualifying Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock battled their way to the winner's circle. An emotional HIght already had plans for a victory celebration.
"I am going to take this trophy back to our shop tonight and go out front with the statue of Eric Medlen and I am going to hoist it up and I hope I hold it as proud as he did," said Hight. "Honestly this morning I wouldn't have given you a nickel to say that we were going to win this race after smoking the tires five runs in a row. You keep giving my crew chief Jimmy Prock a chance and he is going to fix it and we will win. He just got too many chances today."
"I wasn't that nervous because honestly that (right) lane is tough and we just had to do the best we could. Whatever was going to happen would happen. Some many guys kept coming in front of the care wishing us luck and telling us to do good. Austin Coil gave me his usual 'No pressure.' He doesn't realize that scare s me to death. Having all these guys behind you it is unreal," said Hight. "I can't believe we did it again. We were so close last year and had a part break. Jimmy has won this race three times and I am in the right car."
Teammate Mike Neff defeated veteran Jim Head in the first round before dropping a close race to Hight in round two. Neff was proud of his effort at his first Mac Tools US Nationals as a driver.
Ashley Force dropped her first round match-up to eventual finalist Jack Beckman when she drove out of the groove and lost traction. After the run Force spent time with crew chiefs Dean "Guido" Antonelli and Ron Douglas to dissect the run.
"Really when I stepped on the throttle I went to the left. We are thinking because I was kind of changing my position on my brake because in an earlier round I was kind of jammed against the brake. I was thinking that maybe even when I was resting that my hand might be on the brake. I was wondering if it is just taking me longer to get off the brake when I launch," said Force. "That must have been in the back of my head because I remember thinking about that. Guido and Ron even asked if I changed anything about my routine that would make me go left."
"I think that was in my head and Ron even said that if you think you are going to do this or I gave to get off the brake then you are going to be more aggressive with your move to the steering wheel."
Force enjoyed the extra attention she received from running her 2007 Rookie of the Year pink Ford Mustang but like many professional athletes there was a little bit of superstition involved based on her less than stellar results. The only female to qualify in the Funny Car class for the Countdown to 1 is looking forward to getting back into her familiar red and white Castrol GTX Ford Mustang in Charlotte.
"I got really into it. The first couple of days everything was pink. I painted my fingernails pink and I had pink socks. Then we didn't do so great which is totally a coincidence but you kiddingly think it is the pink car. It seems like people that do specialty cars don't always do that great," said Force. "Maybe because of all the extra attention focused on you. It is just coincidence. The pink car was cool but I am looking forward to getting back into my Castrol GTX Mustang. I am glad we did this at Indy and not a Countdown race."
Team-leader John Force summed up his feelings and his confidence in the Auto Club team in the pits following Robert's dramatic win.
"It's three years at Indy that Robert has been in that final and two years that I didn't make the show. Robert told me before the semi-finals he was going to win this race. I just saw it in his eyes. That is the way he is. That is the way he was when he was a champion trapshooter and that is the way he thinks. He was up against tough competition," said the 14-time Funny Car champion. "Jimmy Prock is just the best. We were all working together with the brain trust. Jimmy Prock has been struggling with that Ford Mustang with Auto Club. At the end of the day he pulled it through in the heat. That is what impressed me. He beat a car that was running consistently in the teens. Jimmy Prock pulled it off. God bless them. They made my weekend. I wouldn't change a thing."
JOHN FORCE, 59, Castrol Tection Extra Ford Mustang WQualifying position and performance: DNQ, best run 4.243 seconds, 288.21 mph
Notable: DNQed for the second consecutive year at Mac Tools U.S.
Nationals... reached semi-finals of US Smokeless Showdown...enters Countdown to 1 in 8th place.
ASHLEY FORCE, 25, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang WQualifying position and performance: 7th quickest run at 4.122 seconds, 302.41 mph
Race Results: Lost to Jack Beckman.
Notable: Raced a specialty themed Ford Mustang commemorating her 2007 rookie year...enters the Countdown to 1 in 5th place...one of only four females in Countdown to 1.
ROBERT HIGHT, 39, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 5th at 4.114 seconds, 297.48 mph
Race Results: Beat Frank Hawley, Mike Neff, Tim Wilkerson, Jack Beckman.
Notable: Second Mac Tools U.S. Nationals win in three years...Third consecutive Mac Tools U.S. Nationals final...enters Countdown to 1 in 3rd place in POWERade points highest position for JFR
MIKE NEFF, 41, Old Spice Ford Mustang
Qualifying position and performance: 4th at 4.114 seconds, 303.03 mph
Race results: Beat Jim Head. Lost to Robert Hight.
Notable: Will enter Countdown to 1 in 10th place... only rookie to race in Countdown to 1