John Force Racing press release
HIGHT LOOKING TO CONTINUE RISE IN PHOENIX
PHOENIX (October 11, 2011) --- Two weeks ago Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team were in a make or break situation in Reading, Pennsylvania. They had to make a move up the points or for all intents and purpose their role in the 2011 Countdown would be as a support team for teammate Mike Neff’s championship run.
However a funny thing happened on the way to the 2011 NHRA Funny Car championship, Hight and tuner Jimmy Prock did turn their 8,000 hp Funny Car’s performance around on Sunday and Monday picking up their fifth win of the season and moving into championship contention along the way.
“We knew coming in (to Reading) this was our last chance race. If we had another bad showing it would be over because you put yourself in such a hole when you lose first round at the first two races of the Countdown. Then I have that monkey on my back from last year when we didn’t win a single round in the Countdown,” said Hight the 2009 Funny Car champion. “We had won four races before that and then in the Countdown to lose eight races in a row in first round. We have been struggling that is no secret. Jimmy has worked so hard and we have to thank Mike Neff and all the teams because we all worked so well together. Mike Neff helped get us back on track. Once Jimmy gets it he has got it. I am looking forward to heading out west to home for the final three. We are back into this deal.”
With three races to go Hight is definitely back in championship contention. The Funny Car championship battle is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in all of motorsports. Five drivers are within three rounds of each other at the top of the points. Matt Hagan moved around season long points leader Mike Neff by two points and that tandem sits 30 points in front of Cruz Pedregon. Hight and Jack Beckman are basically a round behind Pedregon. An early stumble by any of these five drivers could shake up the standings once again down the home stretch.
Racing at Firebird Raceway has been a performance playground in years past but with a new date and the pressure of the Countdown there is no telling how this race will shake out. For Hight a two-time finalist at the Arizona Nationals he is looking to continue his streak of firsts as the Countdown comes to an end.
“We won five races in one season for the first time with the win from Reading,” said the Maple Grove winner. “I think Jimmy has a good handle on our tune up and we are working really well with Neff. I have to thank him for helping get Jimmy back on track. He and Jimmy work really well together. John’s (Force) car is coming around too and I think you will see some big numbers in Phoenix. John was No. 1 qualifier there last year and he was No. 2 in Reading with a 4.011. I am excited to be getting back on the track.”
Only four of the ten Countdown Funny Car drivers have visited the winner’s circle in Phoenix with Beckman returning as the defending champion. He joins Force, Capps and Cruz Pedregon as winners of the Arizona Nationals. Last year Force lost on a Monday final to Beckman and in 2009 Neff lost to Ron Capps when his clutch linkage broke on his burnout after he had dominated all day.
“There is no doubt you need a break or two in the Countdown. I feel like we are making our own luck with the Auto Club team. Jimmy really dialed it in at Reading and we ran 4.0s all during eliminations. The key for us is to be consistent. We are going to go after qualifying bonus points and then go rounds on Sunday. With three races left this is anyone’s championship.”