HIGHT OUSTED IN SEMIFINALS AT POMONA Robert Hight qualified No. 1 for the 29th time in his five-year career as driver of the Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang and three of the four Team Castrol drivers finished the rain-plagued ...
HIGHT OUSTED IN SEMIFINALS AT POMONA
Robert Hight qualified No. 1 for the 29th time in his five-year career as driver of the Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang and three of the four Team Castrol drivers finished the rain-plagued season opener in the Top 10 in Full Throttle Series points.
Robert Hight's bid for his third season-opening Funny Car victory in four years came to an abrupt halt in the semifinals when Ron Capps laid down the quickest run of the day (4.054 seconds) to turn back Hight's 4.084 in the Auto Club Ford.
It was just the second time in 11 years that a John Force Racing Mustang was not in the Funny Car final.
"It was good to get in a race groove today," Hight said. "The car went down the track both runs. Jimmy (crew chief Jimmy Prock) made some changes and it's not shaking (like it was previously). I still believe everything is going in the right direction. Jimmy has a ton of things he wants to try on the dyno.
"If you would have had your stuff together this weekend, you could have run a sub-four second run our there," predicted the man who owns the quickest Funny Car times at both 1,000 feet (4.005), the distance at which the series presently is contested, and the traditional quarter mile (4.636)."
While Hight was making a solid 2009 debut at Auto Club Raceway, the only one of his teammates able to advance past the first round was Ashley Force Hood, who took out rookie Matt Hagan to start the race on Sunday, but lost to Jim Head on Tuesday.
"It was just a weird weekend," said the 2007 winner of the Auto Club's Road to the Future Award. "We went to the second round, but we only had been down the track two times the whole weekend. This was just not my favorite race."
John Force, who debuted the new gold-and-black Ford Edge Ford, probably deserved better than a first round loss to Capps. He recorded the third quickest time of the first round and would have beaten six of the other winners. But it wasn't to be. Still, the 59-year-old icon will move on to Phoenix, one of his favorite tracks, in ninth place in points.
JOHN FORCE, 59, Castrol Edge Ford Mustang
Qualifying position/performance: 4th at 4.092 seconds, 304.39 mph.
Race results: Lost to Ron Capps, who posted quickest time in the round of 4.125 seconds (4.141 for Force).
Notable: Left race in ninth place pro points.
Quotable: "We made a good run. Capps just made a better one, so we'll go to Phoenix and try to get this Castrol Edge Ford in the winners' circle."
ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, 26, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position/performance: 3rd at 4.061, no valid speed recorded.
Race results: Beat Matt Hagan but lost to Jim Head in round two.
Quotable: "The rain was the worst. There was so much getting ready and then wait because it rained. You get in your gear, then get in the car and sit for three hours. It was just frustrating for everyone. It isn't at all how you want to run a race."
ROBERT HIGHT, 39, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position/performance: 1st at 4.037 seconds, no valid speed recorded.
Race results: Beat Jerry Toliver ad Jack Beckman; lost to Ron Capps who recorded quick time of eliminations at 4.054 seconds.
Notable: Qualified No. 1 for the 29th time in his brief career; failed to reach Winternationals final for first time in last four years.
Quotable: "We'll go out and work real hard in Phoenix. (It's) tricky, but I made the quickest Funny Car run ever (4.636 seconds in the quarter mile) so we'll see what happens. I'm proud of all these guys. If you get to the semis all year long, you're the World Champion."
MIKE NEFF, 42, Ford Drive One Ford Mustang
Qualifying position/performance: 12th at 4.286 seconds, 304.12 mph
Race results: Lost to Bob Tasca III.
Notable: First foul start of brief driving career.
Quotable: "It's hard to wait (on the weather). Your emotions are up and down. You get ready to go and then it starts raining again. Then you get in and you sit there for so long. I was just a little too amped up, I guess (on the foul start). We lost that one about every way we could."
BRITTANY FORCE, 22, BrandSource A/Fuel dragster
Qualifying position/performance: 10th at 5.547 seconds, 246.89 mph.
Race results: Lost to Justin Davis.
Notable: flew back from attending Hunter College in New York City to compete.
COURTNEY FORCE, 20, BrandSource A/Fuel dragster
Qualifying position/performance: 15th at 5.687, 247.70 mph.
Race results: Lost to No. 2 qualifier Jim Whiteley in round one.