Las Vegas: Robert Hight preview

LOOKING TO TURN LUCK AROUND HIGHT HEADS TO VEGAS LAS VEGAS (April 7, 2008) --- The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has a fickle relationship with Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang. It has been feast for famine for the fourth year...

LOOKING TO TURN LUCK AROUND HIGHT HEADS TO VEGAS

LAS VEGAS (April 7, 2008) --- The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has a fickle relationship with Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang. It has been feast for famine for the fourth year John Force Racing driver from Yorba Linda, Calif. who last year missed his first NHRA POWERade Funny Car championship by 19 points, less than one round of racing. Like most gamblers that roll into town, Hight knows his luck could change in the blink of an eye and he keeps a positive attitude about returning to the Entertainment Capital of the World.

"I like Las Vegas because you get a big crowd from all over the country and representatives from my sponsor, the Automobile Club of Southern California, will all be in Las Vegas. There are even people from my home town in Northern California that go to the Vegas race because Vegas draws people. It is not just the race but that environment," said the 3 to 1 odds on leader, according to odds-maker Micah Roberts. "You know Vegas will be good. The track will be perfect. With what we learned in Houston we can go to Vegas and run good. It gives you more confidence going to a place like Vegas for sure."

In the spring of 2007 at the Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas Hight scored an emotional win at his first event back following the tragic death during a testing accident of teammate Eric Medlen but in October when the championship was on the line a first round loss all but ended his title hopes for the second season in a row.

This season has also been filled with ups and downs for the 2005 NHRA Rookie of the Year. He opened the season with two final round appearances including a win at the season opening CARQUEST Winternationals in Pomona. He is currently in fourth place in the points standings falling from the No. 1 position after a surprising DNQ at the Springnationals two weeks ago in Houston. Still the former world-class trap shooter is looking to score another bulls-eye in Las Vegas this weekend.

"It is kind of funny. This season started out a lot like last year where we went to the final the first two races, didn't have a very good showing in Gainesville, and missed Houston. Basically this season, we went to the first two finals, Gainesville was bad and I missed Houston again by not qualifying. If history keeps on repeating itself hopefully I am going to go to Vegas and get another win."

Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock spent a day following the Houston NHRA national event testing their Ford Mustang trying to come up with a consistent combination. They both know they are looking for a problem that dates back to that ill-timed first round loss last October at The Strip.

"We made one good run there (Las Vegas) during the night qualifying session, smoked the tires both runs on Saturday and then again in first round on Sunday and our season was over. Richmond was the same thing last year. We smoked the tires first round," said Hight. "The problem is the amount of runs you have from testing to work out a new combination. Is it going to be better off in the long run? Yeah, sure but Jimmy (Prock) will get it. Are you going to struggle until you get it and be on the learning curve? Sure. We have to go back to basics a little bit when we are racing and qualifying and then try things when we test and be patient."

Hight summed up his chances with an optimistic outlook heading into the fifth race of the season.

"We've run good at the Vegas races. I've been number one qualifier there a lot and we just lose first round (or won). I am hoping to change my luck this weekend and get to the winner's circle again."

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Robert Hight