INDY WINNER HIGHT PURSUES CAPPS, FORCE IN POINTS RACE Auto Club Driver Seeking Third Straight Tour Victory READING, Pa. Gary Scelzi, the reigning NHRA POWERade Funny Car Champion, is one of those not at all surprised that second year ...
INDY WINNER HIGHT PURSUES
CAPPS, FORCE IN POINTS RACE
Auto Club Driver Seeking Third Straight Tour Victory
READING, Pa. Gary Scelzi, the reigning NHRA POWERade Funny Car Champion, is one of those not at all surprised that second year driver Robert Hight is one of the three drivers battling to succeed him as the pro tour returns this week to Maple Grove Raceway for the anticipated completion of the 22nd annual Toyo Nationals.
In fact, Scelzi identified Hight as a future star and championship contender even before the former crewman ran his first race as a professional.
"Robert Hight will be Rookie of the Year,'" Scelzi said before the start of the 2005 season. "He's a marksman and the concentration he uses in that sport is really helping him in the car. I've seen him test and he'll be a big player."
Hight hasn't disappointed not Scelzi and certainly not father-in-law John Force, who last season put him behind the wheel of the Team Castrol/Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang even though he had no previous driving experience.
The former trapshooting champion responded by winning twice last year on the way to making Scelzi appear the prophet, claiming the Auto Club's Road to the Future Award that identifies the NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year.
This year, crew chief Jimmy Prock has transformed him into a championship contender but putting him in an 8,000 horsepower Ford Mustang that has become the most feared car in the series, one that has put Hight on the "pole" a category-best eight times and put him in position this week to win a third consecutive tour event.
He followed a victory in drag racing's biggest race, the Labor Day Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., with a win last week at Dallas that enabled him to cut the deficit between himself and front-running Ron Capps to just 93 points.
The only thing between him and the lead is family Force is second, 37 points behind Capps, 56 ahead of the father of his only grandchild, two-year-old Autumn Danielle.
With four races remaining, anything is possible.
Hight, who's won more races this year than Force (three), has won five times in two years, reaching the five-victory plateau quicker than any Funny Car driver since Cruz Pedregon, who won five times en route to the championship as a rookie in 1992.
To put that in perspective, it took Force, the sport's most prolific winner, 124 races to achieve the same result.