Hight Leads JFR At Ford Thunder Valley Nats
After a long day of racing action Robert Hight and the Auto Club Mustang team proved that their consistent efforts in previous races could start paying off at a track where the 21-time winner has struggled. Hight was second quickest in both qualifying sessions today ultimately winding up three thousandths of a second behind provisional number one qualifier Bob Tasca III, 4.110 to a 4.107.
“Going up there it was a nice feeling knowing that if we didn’t make it we would be top half based on our first run. You have to give (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) credit he didn’t go for it and throw it away. We were only three thousandths off the top spot. There were a couple of things you could have fixed really easily on that run,” said Hight, a three time winner in 2011.
“The bigger deal for me was going down the track. We were top two in both runs and picked up four points in bonus points. If we keep chipping away like that the rest of the regular season that will gain us a couple of rounds. I am happy it went both runs. That is big.”
For Hight the rest of the season is all about consistency and confidence. Those two elements are keys to success for Hight here in Bristol and other tracks later in the season.
“Having two good runs does get your confidence rolling. Tomorrow will be a huge indicator for Sunday. We have to do that same thing tomorrow,” said Hight. “For some reason it is weird I have never done well here except for 2008. Another track is Brainerd that I have not done well. The two races that start with a ‘B’ have just been a bummer for me. I am hoping to turn that around this year. We are planning on winning this one and going to Brainerd and turning it around there too.”
Most likely with warmer temperatures tomorrow no one will surpass Tasca’s top ET and Hight will extend his streak of non No. 1 qualifying starts. This would be the 18th race in a row going back to Seattle of 2010 that Hight has not been No. 1. The streak does not bother Hight who has picked up four wins inside that 18 race window.
“I am not worried about a No. 1 qualifier streak. Our goal is to be consistent and win races. It is hard to win races from the No. 1 spot for some reason and trust me we want to be No. 1 every race but I am not going to lose sleep over that. I am glad to have a Ford at the top here at the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals. We want to get those qualifying bonus points and go rounds on Sunday,” added Hight, a 38-time No. 1 qualifier.
While Tasca and Hight were at the top of the Funny Car qualifying sheet 15-time Funny Car champion John Force and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang finished the day in the No. 7 spot. His second qualifying run of 4.126 at 307.30 mph is only one tenth of a second slower than No. 4 qualifier Cruz Pedregon.
The most recent Funny Car winner, Mike Neff, looks to be following the same pattern of success that has led him to the past four final rounds in a row and a win two weeks ago in Englishtown. Neff also recorded the 14th quickest time in Englishtown on Friday and for the crew chief turned driver a less than stellar Friday has led to a bounce back performance on Saturday and then a steady march through the competition on Sunday in the Castrol GTX Mustang.
"I am going to go back and look at the data and make some changes for tomorrow. We were just a little off today,” said Neff. “We were trying to run quick in that last session but we weren’t trying to go crazy. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Tomorrow we’ll be making runs in conditions that will get us set up for Sunday. My goal is to get us in the top half and then see what we can do on Sunday.”