Night under fire win has hight looking to Brainerd triumph
BRAINERD, MN --- Two events have 2009 NHRA Funny Car champion Robert Hight eager to get his Auto Club Ford Mustang into competition at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals this weekend. One is his recent win at the Night Under Fire match race in Norwalk, Ohio and the other is a win earlier this season in Bristol.
In mid-June Hight won the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley in Bristol, Tennessee taking the win at one of the “B” tracks where he had historically struggled. This weekend he is looking to add a win at the other “B” track, Brainerd International Raceway, home of the 30th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
...we’ll go to Brainerd and turn that one around too.
After the Bristol win Hight immediately focused on Brainerd and getting another win at a track John Force Racing has dominated.
“We finally got Bristol. We were joking around that all the races that start with ‘B’s’ we have trouble at like Brainerd and Bristol. We turned this one around,” said Hight, a four-time winner this season.
In the past two races Hight and his Auto Club Mustang have overcome a number of hurdles. Heading into Seattle at the end of the Western Swing Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock were battling tire shake. In an odd turn of events a tire explosion during qualifying forced Hight into his back-up Mustang and he did not suffer the same problem in the new Funny Car. He raced to a semi-final finish losing to eventual Seattle winner Tim Wilkerson.
“This Auto Club Ford Mustang is going through the tough parts smoothly now. In the semis it went through the trouble area so we fixed our biggest problem of shaking,” said Hight after the Seattle race. “That was just killing us. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) has some work to do learning how to run us this way. We have two races and we are going testing at the Night Under Fire in Norwalk. We are going to make as many runs as we can. We’ll be ready to go to Brainerd. I already got one win at a track I had struggled at in Bristol so we’ll go to Brainerd and turn that one around too.”
Prock and Hight did in fact continue to work through issues in Norwalk at the Night Under Fire and Hight even took his first Night Under Fire championship outrunning teammate and mentor John Force in the final.
“A win is a win so getting some momentum coming out of the Night Under Fire is good for this Auto Club team. We figured a couple of things out that I am glad we were learning in Norwalk and not during qualifying or race day in Brainerd. The crowd in Norwalk was huge and they even waited out a two hour power outage to watch the final. I don’t think a single fan left that track.”
Hight has four NHRA national events wins this season as well as the Night Under Fire victory but getting on a hot streak heading into the Countdown is his number one priority. With a play-off spot clinched in Seattle Hight and his Auto Club Mustang team can focus on consistency and getting their play-off attitude squared away.
“I am a huge baseball fan and you have to have a play-off mindset in the regular season. You can’t just turn on a new attitude. You look at the teams that have dominated lately like the San Francisco Giants, the New York Yankees, or the Philadelphia Phillies those teams had strong regular seasons and then dominated in the play-offs that is what we want to do. We want to finish these last two regular season races strong and then go into the Countdown on a roll.”