CHAMPIONSHIP WITHIN HIGHT'S GRASP AT HOME TRACK POMONA (November 11, 2008) --- Two round of racing. Forty points. Less than nine seconds. That is all that stands between Robert Hight and his first Funny Car POWERade Championship. All season...
CHAMPIONSHIP WITHIN HIGHT'S GRASP AT HOME TRACK
POMONA (November 11, 2008) --- Two round of racing. Forty points. Less than nine seconds. That is all that stands between Robert Hight and his first Funny Car POWERade Championship.
All season long Hight has been the focus of the championship hunt. He opened the season with a win in Pomona at the Winternationals and he followed that with a runner-up finish in Phoenix. He led the points for the fourth year in a row, something only he has done at least once during the last four seasons in the Funny Car class.
Then there was a bit of a swoon as Hight and his team struggled to work out some performance kinks that had plagued the championship caliber team. His team was consistently a top qualifier and still struck fear throughout the Funny Car ranks but the early career dominance that propelled him to the 2005 Rookie of the Year Trophy and back-to-back championship runner-up finishes was hit or miss on race day.
An emotional win at Sonoma followed by this second career win at the Mac Tools US Nationals once again had Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team thinking championship.
As the Countdown to 1 started Hight was again consistent but not dominant. A couple of miraculous moves by his competitors kept him from grabbing wins at Charlotte and Dallas. Still Hight and the Auto Club team kept the championship focus knowing that they were always within striking distance.
Two weeks ago Hight made a strong move up the points ladder in Las Vegas thanks to an assist from teammate Mike Neff who eliminated then points leader Tim Wilkerson in the first round. Hight marched to the final round where he was narrowly defeated by current points leader Cruz Pedregon.
Now with only one race to go Hight is 39 points behind Pedregon and 27 points behind Wilkerson. It comes down to one race for the championship and Hight is tired to just missing out on his opportunity to hoist the grand prize.
"I am just excited we actually have a shot. It is not a long shot. It is a good shot to win this championship. I am tired of finishing second. I know we have what it takes to win this thing with the team, with the people. I know I can win rounds," said Hight.
Last season Hight entered the final race of the season 92 points out of the title. While he came up short he did made up 73 points in one race on eventual champion Tony Pedregon a feat he would like to repeat in 2008. This weekend Hight knows he has a great shot at getting a championship.
"We were 92 points back and now it's attainable, you know, two rounds. We've had good luck at Pomona and I've won the last two races there. We are going to be just fine. My car ran great all weekend and we gained a lot more [points] than I thought we could in one race. We will just have to see what happens at Pomona," added Hight.
As if Hight needed any additional motivation for success this weekend he will be racing a Los Angeles Dodgers commemorative Ford Mustang and Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda will be the events grand marshal. A life-long Dodgers fan Hight threw out the first pitch earlier this season at a Dodgers game and now he will be competing flying the Dodgers colors on his Mustang as well as an Impact custom designed fire suit.
"The Dodgers had a stretch there where they lost eight in a row, and they came back. You know what? If we do the same thing with the race team, it's not over yet. A lot of people would've written them off when they lost eight in a row, and they ended up getting five or six games back, and they just kept working at it, working as a team, and they came through, and that's what we need to do," added Hight.