Hight Best Of Show On Friday At Supernationals
OLD BRIDGE, NJ --- Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang picked up where they left off in Topeka, a race he won two weeks ago, racing to the provisional No.1 spot on Friday at the NHRA SuperNationals. Hight closed out the final qualifying session running beside the quickest Funny Car from the first session, Cruz Pedregon, and he was able to post a 4.090 second time at a whopping 310.34 mph as Pedregon smoked the tires beside him. Hight outran fellow Ford driver Tim Wilkerson by four thousandths of a second for the provisional top spot.
“I think everyone was playing it smart tonight. You look at Cruz. That Snap-On Toyota either goes and is No. 1 or he smokes the tires. When he has it right he has the best car right now. He is probably two hundredths better than anyone else out here. He was the one I was figuring was going to get low ET tonight. He made a decent run the first run. I still can’t believe that 4.09 is No. 1. We’ll take it.”
Hight knows that getting a good run on Friday night can be a key to getting a leg up in racing on Sunday. He also recognizes that qualifying efforts sometimes do not equate to Sunday round wins at one of the most historic races on the circuit.
“You really want to be in the top half for Sunday. We made a decent run today in the first session, actually the best run in the right lane. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock just said we are not going to get crazy. We are going to make sure we go down the track. That is what we have been lacking the last few races,” said Hight a three time winner on 2011.
“We have just not been consistent. Sunday at Topeka we got it together and I really feel like we are on our way now. We are looking forward to these hot tracks. I have had a lot of luck here before in qualifying but I have never won this thing. This is one that when you retire you want to have won. It is as big as the Gatornationals in Gainesville and Indy. There is so much history here. The fans love Nitro and they love Funny Cars.”
While Hight was running away from the field teammates Mike Neff and John Force were struggling with tricky track conditions. Before the second qualifying session Neff took a few minutes to talk with New Jersey News 12 meteorologist Dave Curran about how important weather conditions are to making great runs before he climbed into his Castrol GTX Mustang. The great weather did not play into Neff’s favor as the track conditions derailed a number to teams qualifying efforts.
“The track was 95 degrees. It should have been better. We were even being more conservative than what we normally would. The track didn’t seem very good the first run,” said Neff. “For the little change that we made to get that result is just uncharacteristic. It wasn’t only us. Half the field did the same thing. Not everybody is that stupid. Those are good track conditions and everybody should have been able to go ripping down that race track.”
“It is very frustrating. You have good track conditions and something is not normal. I know the power is good here and we adjust for all that. We don’t have any more power here than we did at Gainesville or Houston. We correct for that. We went down it the first run. It was running good. We came back and made one little move and it looks like we did three times as much. It smokes the tires like that shows me that there is something weird out there. It happens though. (hears TF smoke tires) See you hear that something is wrong out there. ”
Both Neff and Force will have to use their two sessions tomorrow to get into the show. Their quickest qualifying times today of 5.108 (Neff) and 5.136 (Force) seconds will not carry over into Saturday since they were the 14th and 15th quickest of the day respectively.