HIGHT GRABS 36TH NO. 1 AT CHICAGO, 2ND IN A ROW JOLIET, IL -- 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight continued his performance stranglehold on the rest of the category holding onto the top qualifying spot for a category leading 4th...
HIGHT GRABS 36TH NO. 1 AT CHICAGO, 2ND IN A ROW
JOLIET, IL -- 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight continued his performance stranglehold on the rest of the category holding onto the top qualifying spot for a category leading 4th time in 2010 and 36th time in his young career. Hight's Friday night qualifying run of 4.067 seconds was only moderately approached on Saturday by teammate Ashley Force Hood's 4.092 second run in the first session on Saturday. For the 47th time two John Force Racing teammates will lead the Funny Car class into competition when Hight and Force Hood start eliminations at the UA Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals on Sunday.
The race day was not without controversy. At the conclusion of the qualifying session Hight was paired with teammate and Castrol GTX High Mileage backed John Force in a marquee match-up of No. 1 vs. No. 16 qualifiers and No. 2 and No. 1 in Funny Car points, respectively.
Approximately 30 minutes after the session the NHRA announced that two-time World Champion and No. 15 qualifier Cruz Pedregon was disqualified when his Snap-On Tools Toyota Solara recorded invalid data on his final qualifying run. Force was moved up in the qualifying order and Justin Schreifer was inserted as the No. 16 qualifier and first round opponent for Hight.
When he was alerted to the new first round opponent Hight was less than relieved. Hight defeated Justin Schriefer in their only previous head to head race, last year at Memphis.
"It doesn't change your mindset. We don't race the other guy. We go up there and race the conditions. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) knows what he can get away with based on the conditions. We go up there and do our deal. It was just like in Topeka when we had a single we would have looked stupid if we would have gone up there and smoked the tires," said Hight. "What did we do? We went out there and set low ET for the whole weekend. We didn't do anything stupid. We didn't put the car where we hadn't put it before. We just went and raced the conditions. There is no difference in how we approach racing Justin or John tomorrow morning. If I try to make a difference I'll be late on the light. You have to go up there assuming the other guy is going to be perfect. You just have to do your job because if you don't he is going to beat you."
As the No. 1 qualifer Hight's performance won Natalie Corres of Waucoda, Illinois a Whirlpool washer and dryer from JFR sponsor BrandSource. As part of the "Win with Force" promotion when a JFR team is No. 1 qualifier a Whirlpool washer and dryer set is given away and if a JFR driver wins tomorrow a lucky fan will win a Mitsubishi 52 " television.
With the new ladder Ashley Force Hood will face her father and points leader John Force in the first round. Hight was asked in the pressroom about what it was like to race a teammate.
"It is hard for me especially to race John because it is hard to have the same 'go for the throat' feeling as you do for the other competitors. If it wasn't for him I would not be sitting in that race car. He gave me this opportunity. You do have to blank all that out. You have to go up there and when we race my team wants to beat his team and they want to beat us. You just have to put all that out of your mind and focus on the tree. You have to do your job and that is all you can do. Hopefully it is good enough," said the former crewman.
In the first session on Saturday Ashley Force Hood powered he Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to the quickest run of the session, 4.092 seconds, as well as the day. Heading into eliminations tomorrow Force Hood is encouraged based on how aggressive her crew chiefs Ron Douglas and Dean "Guido" Antonelli were in the final run.
"That last run felt like a really good run and it made it further for how hard they were pushing it. It was either go or it was going to blow the tires off. I thought we made it through the scary part and then it let go. I am sure they learned a lot from that. The launch felt really good. We were in No. 2 and the conditions were possibly there to try and move up a spot. If we didn't (get down track) it wasn't really going to hurt us. We were in the show. It just didn't work for us. Tomorrow we will definitely be pushing it as hard as we can. We will want to be sure to get down the track for sure," said Force Hood.
At the end of the day 14-time Funny Car champion John Force was not looking forward to racing a family member whether it was son-in-law Robert Hight or daughter Ashley Force Hood. The current Full throttle points leader knows that the fans will get to see a great first round match-up and he will have to bring his "A" game to the starting line.
"I race the way I always race. Robert has an opportunity to set a record tomorrow that only a few drivers have ever done. Guys like (Kenny) Bernstein, (Don) Prudhomme and myself have won four in a row. He has a shot at taking the points lead tomorrow. We are teammates but tomorrow we have to slug it out. We are family and (Ashley) knows I love her and she loves me. We'll just go from here and see what happens," said Force.
"The fans will love it. Either way we have race cars that are out in the points. The truth is if I can't run good enough to beat her then I need to go home because I can't beat anyone else. It is going to be exciting. The fans better get in the seats early. I am getting to bed early and I am getting ready. I am going to go work out in the gym tomorrow and tomorrow I am going to come out here and give everything John Force has got. Ashley will do the same thing. She will give me her best tomorrow too."