Indy ORP: Robert Hight preview

TWO-TIME US NATS CHAMP HIGHT LOOKING TO MAKE HISTORY AND COUNTDOWN INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 31, 2009) --- It is the longest running drag race in the country. It is the biggest drag racing event of the year. It has the most pressure and carries...

TWO-TIME US NATS CHAMP HIGHT LOOKING TO MAKE HISTORY AND COUNTDOWN

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 31, 2009) --- It is the longest running drag race in the country. It is the biggest drag racing event of the year. It has the most pressure and carries the most prestige. It is the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil and the stakes could not be higher for defending champion Robert Hight.

Not since the 1970's and Don Prudhomme has a funny car driver raced to three consecutive funny car finals at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. Last year Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang team equaled that feat racing to his third final round in a row and he picked up his second Mac Tools U.S. Nationals title of his relatively young career. The win nailed down the number three position in the Countdown to 1 for the Auto Club Ford Mustang team and set them on their quest for the Full Throttle Funny Car Championship.

Entering the 2009 installment of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Hight is still flying the Auto Club colors but in a strategic move by team owner John Force Hight is teamed up with crew chief legends Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly along with Force's Castrol GTX High Mileage crew. Hight is in 12th place in the Full Throttle point standings 38 points outside the Top Ten. Indy will be Hight's last shot to race into championship contention. Following the pre-race test session Hight likes his chances.

"What was encouraging for me was to see (crew chief) Austin Coil at the top end and see how encouraged he was from our runs. I would say (testing) was a one hundred percent success. Yes we smoked the tires (some), but we learned a lot from that. We won't press so hard (at Indy), and had we not done that (smoked the tires) we might have pressed it that hard during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and smoked the tire there instead. So we're way ahead. In the six runs we made(during testing), Austin feels that it's shown more promise and that it responds to what he does better than it has all year," said Hight.

Hight needs to make up two rounds on 2008 Funny Car champion Cruz Pedregon as well as one round on rookie Matt Hagan. Luckily history is on Hight's side. In the past three Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Hight has reached the finals while Pedregon exited in the second round twice and DNQed once. That kind of performance at the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals would springboard Hight over Pedregon.

To get past Hagan Hight needs to race one round further than the rookie. Hagan will be making his second attempt at the U.S. Nationals. He qualified last season but lost in the first round.

Last year a quartet of John Force Racing Mustangs raced into the Countdown to 1 and the entire team wants to duplicate that effort. Hight is mindful of the pressure and knows that he has to be at the top of his game in Indy.

"I am proud to have won Indy twice but this year will be special because of the pressure. I am looking forward to getting to Indy. Cruz (Pedregon) is a great driver and Hagan is having a great rookie year. Both of those guys will be tough but I have a great team supporting me including Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly along with all the other crew chiefs and drivers. We have had a lot of success at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals we and we will be focused and ready," said Hight.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Don Prudhomme , Robert Hight , Matt Hagan , Austin Coil