ROBERT HIGHT: ENTERING CHICAGO HIGHT PUTS OPTIMISM TO TEST CHICAGO (June 2, 2008) --- Auto Club Ford Mustang driver Robert "Top Gun" Hight is known as one of the most feared drivers on the NHRA tour even though he has had his share of struggles...
ROBERT HIGHT: ENTERING CHICAGO HIGHT PUTS OPTIMISM TO TEST
CHICAGO (June 2, 2008) --- Auto Club Ford Mustang driver Robert "Top Gun" Hight is known as one of the most feared drivers on the NHRA tour even though he has had his share of struggles this season. What many people may not know is that even when his team struggles Hight knows that they are just one adjustment away from perfection.
This personality trait is serving the 9-time NHRA national event winner well considering he is heading back to the 11th annual TORCO Race Fuels Route 66 Nationals on the outskirts of Chicago where he failed to qualify in 2007. He is also coming off a trying event in Topeka where he and crew chief Jimmy Prock continued to battle a recurring clutch problem in their Ford Mustang.
During his first round race of eliminations versus former Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi Hight was heading for the win when his Mustang shook, lost traction and gave Scelzi the opportunity to drive past him for the win.
"(The run was) was perfect. It was going to haul ass. It was gonna run 4.80 flat. And two rods broke. It was one of two things. Either there was debris in the crankshaft or it was out of round. Anyway, at 180 feet out, it broke two rods instantly," said the 2005 rookie of the Year. "It didn't drop any cylinders to that point. It was right along with the 4.80 run we made at Bristol. It was going to be low ET of the whole deal. We just found another way (to lose). It's frustrating."
The team had been battling this problem most of the event in Topeka. In his previous three appearances Hight had qualified No. 1 each year and he had reached the semis all three years but he struggled to find a handle on his fuel coupe from the first round of qualifying.
"We crippled ourselves a little bit the first run (of qualifying) not going down there. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock had to be real cautious in the afternoon session. I'm just glad it went. It's boiling on the other end and it's the weirdest thing ever it was way down here in the shutdown and it kicked the rods out way down here. It was weird I didn't know what it was. I thought I ran over something."
In 2006 Hight raced his way to the finals in Chicago before falling to boss, teammate, and father-in-law, John Force. Last year his DNQ at Route 66 Raceway was a tough pill to swallow but Hight continued to battle and finished the season in second place for the second consecutive year.
Hight opened the 2007 season with back-to-back finals including a season opening win at the Winternationals in Pomona. He is the only Funny Car driver to have led the Funny Car points each of the last four years and he is currently fifth in the point standing. Hight knows that he is in a prime position to stay ahead of the pack and even gain some ground on a few of the drivers in front of him in the point standings.
"In a few races you'll have guys getting new chassis and Goodyear tires combined with no testing which will really hurt them," said the former JFR crewman. "Jimmy looked back in Bristol and he said if we get this motor to run good this Mustang will fly. It will run better than the 4.74 we ran in Bristol. We'll get this thing running. I am always optimistic. I don't think we are that far off."
That kind of optimism will keep Hight focused on going rounds and should continue to keep him at the top of the standings.