Norwalk: Robert Hight preview

Hight Heads to Norwalk With Heavy Heart, Eye On Future Hight Heads to Norwalk With Heavy Heart, Eye On Future NORWALK, OH (June 24, 2008) --- Robert Hight and the Auto Club team will head back to the track this week after a tough race in ...

Hight Heads to Norwalk With Heavy Heart, Eye On Future

Hight Heads to Norwalk With Heavy Heart, Eye On Future

NORWALK, OH (June 24, 2008) --- Robert Hight and the Auto Club team will head back to the track this week after a tough race in Englishtown, New Jersey where they lost friend and competitor Scott Kalitta in a tragic qualifying accident. Kalitta, a two-time NHRA World Champion, succumbed to multiple injuries incurred during the fourth qualifying session of the Lucas Oil SuperNationals.

Hight was slated to race Kalitta in the first round of eliminations on Sunday and with the Kalitta race operation and crew standing in the opposite lane Hight took the green light and cruised down the quarter mile barely above an idle as a tribute to his fallen competitor. The pass took twenty-three seconds but the memory will last a lifetime for many NHRA fans.

"I never want to get a single in eliminations. I want to race someone every time I go down the track. To get a single this way is just terrible. I remember when I was just a test driver for John Force and Eric Medlen had just started racing," said the 2005 Rookie of the Year. "Eric would talk with Scott (Kalitta) all the time and I was always right there listening and learning. Scott was a world champion and you could always count on him to help you out."

Team owner and teammate John Force was proud of the decision by his young driver. Considering how valuable on-track data is to teams these days with an NHRA imposed testing ban in place having a driver see the big picture meant a lot to the racing legend.

"I was very proud of him. I see that they care more than just running low ET and getting the lane choice or winning a race. When a man makes a statement like that you want to support him. So many people thanked us," said the winningest driver in NHRA history. "That was Robert's call. It was brilliant because it showed heart. When you work so hard to win and you give it all you've got and then you've got to take away that edge where you've got a chance to test your car. Scott Kalitta is worth way more than anything than we can accomplish here this weekend or any year of our life. We lost a great friend."

Even though Hight lost in the second round to Del Worsham his Ford Mustang performed better and they continue to develop a consistent combination that will hopefully carry them to their first championship.

"I'm encouraged leaving Englishtown and heading to Norwalk with how the motor looks and the way it was running. We just have to keep working at it. We are going to take some different parts with us that we used to run in 2006 in case we don't continue to make progress on what we are doing," said Hight a former JFR crew member. "We are looking at the fuel system right now and the older system you can tailor different parts of the run better than what we have right now. We might not need to use that if we continue to make progress."

Hight made a slight move up the points and he sees more progress can be made with a good qualifying effort. The Norwalk track elapsed time record holder, 4.713 seconds, knows that progress is made one step at a time.

"I glad I moved up in the POWERade points from sixth to fifth and I'm only six points out of fourth place. I'm just going to keep chipping away at it."

Racing back-to-back weekends helps the team get into a racing groove and after Norwalk there will be one week off before teams head West for the grueling three week Western Swing where teams will race in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma on three weekends in a row.

"Heading into Norwalk and then getting on the Western Swing is when a team can really get one a roll and build some momentum race to race to race. It is a lot of work for the guys but it is the time to get and keep your stuff together and get on a roll. That is what we need to do."

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , John Force , Scott Kalitta , Eric Medlen , Robert Hight