STUNNED HIGHT BLASTS TO TOP OF PROV. CHICAGO FIELD JOLIET, IL -- After waiting all day for sporadic rains showers to stop long enough to get some racing action in at Rt. 66 Raceway outside Joliet, Illinois, Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford ...
STUNNED HIGHT BLASTS TO TOP OF PROV. CHICAGO FIELD
JOLIET, IL -- After waiting all day for sporadic rains showers to stop long enough to get some racing action in at Rt. 66 Raceway outside Joliet, Illinois, Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team made the most of their only shot at qualifying on Friday for the 13th annual UA Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals. Hight stunned the crowd and his competition with a 4.067 second run at 313.15 mph. That run was nearly a tenth of a second quicker than Matt Hagan's provisional No. 2 run of 4.142 seconds.
"I really don't think (crew chief) Jimmy Prock was trying to run that hard. When we saw all the other cars smoking the tires we knew we just needed to get A to B and get down the track with a mid-teen. I think it even surprised Jimmy," said the 17-time event winner.
"It was smooth as can be. Out in the middle of the race track it got a little dark. It was like the lights went off for a second. I told myself don't turn the wheel. I knew it was going straight to that point and then I had vision again. That is kind of the way it is at night. Once I could see I had my hands on the chutes at the other end it was just a perfect run."
"When you run 313 mph that just proves that all the work we have done on our Auto Club Mustang has paid off. This Mustang is happy. It runs clean to the other end. It is fast too. It is an unbelievable feeling. It is another three points but just to be qualified is a big deal. Jimmy told me on the radio beforehand a lot of guys aren't going so if it does anything make sure you get it to the top end so it will be qualified. There is rain for tomorrow maybe," said the winner of the last three NHRA national events.
As one of the last two Funny Cars to run along with team owner John Force, Hight and Prock had the most time to contemplate what they could do to set up Hight's Auto Club Mustang. Prock used every second to make adjustments much to the shagrin of Hight.
"This one was probably the latest we have ever made changes. John's car was already running and had the body down and we were still in the box. Jimmy told the guys to start my car but they were waiting on him since he was in the box. That is what we normally do but he meant we could start the car and he would still make adjustments while it was running. It was a last minute deal. I had to rush the burn out. He was making last minute adjustments. As a driver that kind of scares you. You don't know what it is going to do when he is making last minutes adjustments. Right now you have to trust him. I always do. He definitely has a handle on it."
Hight knows he and his team cannot take one run off and the competition is right around the corner.
"You just have to stay focused. The other guys out here are working hard. Our deal could turn around just like that. We saw it last year when I won the championship. We were struggling then we fixed it and then we were off. We finished the season on a high note last year and we started this season struggling again. It does change. These race cars are very finicky. You rely on the parts that are available to you and the crew doing a great job. We have to continue doing that good job. We are only as good as the crew and our parts. We just have to stay focused and work hard. One of these days it is going to change," said the three time 2010 No. 1 qualifier.
If this time holds up it would be Hight's fourth of the season and 36th of his career.The other two John Force Racing Mustangs ran into the same trouble that most of the Funny Cars faced on Friday night: too much power for the track.
Ashley Force Hood powered her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to the 15th quickest run of the session. She pedaled her Mustang at half track and crossed the finish line with a time of 5.932 seconds at 119.27 mph. Her time will not carry over into Saturday unless the entire day is rained out. In the event of a missed day of qualifying tomorrow Force Hood's time will stand.
Current points leader John Force running beside Hight fared a little better than Force Hood. His Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang tripped the timing clocks at 5.182 seconds at 151.68 mph and was good enough for the No. 12 provisional spot. His time will carry over to Saturday.