Hight Looking To Continue Winning Ways In Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, NC (April 12, 2011) --- Robert “Top Gun” Hight has come out of the off-season guns blazing. He has added two wins already the season to his growing list of accomplishments that includes leading the points at least once every year of his professional career, winning at least two races every year of his professional career and winning 200 rounds of racing almost as fast as his legendary teammate and father-in-law John Force (136 to 138 races).
You would think that kind of start to a career and season would give Hight a swagger or air of superiority as he strolled through the staging lanes on the way to his Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang. If you thought that you would be wrong.
“Trust me I am never going to get over confident. This class and these other drivers are too tough,” said Hight, a 20-time national event winner. “Your luck can change before you know it. I am not saying I have been lucky but you do need a break every now and then and (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and my team are trying to make sure the breaks go our way.”
“The way we ended the season last year just fired us up for the off-season. Jimmy’s attitude was let’s get to work and he did. We figured some things out and the real key was keeping my team together. We had some changes at JFR to start the season but my team wasn’t affected by any of that.”
Hight is referencing the hiatus teammate Ashley Force Hood is taking to have her first child necessitating the driver shuffle that has former crew chief turned driver turned crew chief Mike Neff back behind the wheel of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. John Force has moved over to Ashley’s team with crew chiefs Dean “Guido” Antonelli and Ron Douglas.
All the changes in personnel have not slowed down the most dominant team in Funny Car history. Heading into the 2nd annual VisitMyrtleBeach.com Four-Wide NHRA Nationals the trio of JFR drivers bring enough credentials to the race that all three have to be considered odds on favorites.
The way we ended the season last year just fired us up for the off-season.
In 2010 Hight was the quickest Funny Car all weekend grabbing the No. 1 qualifying spot at the inaugural event. In the first round he was out in front when his Mustang surprisingly dropped not one but two cylinders forcing his Funny Car across the centerline. As Hight battled to keep control he brush up against Jeff Arend and his day was done.
John Force went on to win the race with daughter Ashley Force Hood in the runner-up spot. Neff now has the car Force won the race with as well as the 2010 championship and Force is over working with the car that finished second.
All three drivers will be focused on the controlled chaos that is four-wide racing and four-wide staging. The NHRA has redesigned the Christmas Tree to alleviate some of the staging confusion. Hight got a sneak peek at the new tree in Gainesville when the NHRA invited all the drivers to check out the new look.
“It looked really good. The NHRA has made it a lot better. They used LED lights and I think drivers will be a lot more comfortable looking at that tree to see what the other three cars or dragsters are doing. The real key is just keeping your own mind clear and focused on what you have to do. It is tricky but John figured it out last year by studying the tree all weekend. I am sure he’ll be up on the starting line again this weekend.”
When you are racing more often you can stay focused.
With Hight’s two wins and Neff’s victory in Gainesville, JFR has possession of all three special edition pewter Wally’s the NHRA has offered up in 2011. The 3-0 start combined with Force’s 2-0 end to the 2010 season has everyone eyeing a hot streak that Hight would like to keep going. Add to that drama the fact that JFR has won 199 Funny Car races heading into Charlotte.
After the Las Vegas race Hight spoke about the importance of streaks and how they can be both a blessing and a curse. A huge baseball fan Hight recalled a story about Joe DiMaggio and his historic hitting streak.
“I read a story about Joe DiMaggio and his hitting streak. He said eventually the streak wore on him because the streak was all he thought about. He said it consumed him,” said baseball fan Hight. “We are going to be thinking about this streak a lot. We want to keep it going but one thing I am glad about now is we are racing every other week. You don’t have all this dead time off between races. We are going to get into the groove and I think it will even make us better. When you are racing more often you can stay focused. I am excited this is the best start I have ever had.”