Hight Ready To Battle At Bristol
The past four years at Bristol Dragway have not been kind to 2009 Full Throttle NHRA Funny Car champion Robert Hight. As Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team roll into Bruton Smith’s Tennessee race track for the 11th annual Ford Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals they have high hopes however of continuing his 2011 success . The previous Bristol high point for Hight was his semi-final finish in 2008 but since then Thunder Valley has been nothing but frustration and disappointment for Hight.
“In 2008 we made it to the semi-finals and I remember I was racing (teammate) Mike Neff. It had been raining all day, on and off, so we were delayed and it was getting dark. We both launched and at the same time we both smoked the tires and he was able to recover a little quicker to get the win,” said Hight. “He had a great race car that whole weekend and my Auto Club Mustang had been running pretty well on race day. That has been by far my highlight at Thunder Valley as a driver.”
In the final Neff’s team was unable to lift the body of his Mustang and arm the systems that deliver fuel. His Mustang took off and was in the lead before it ran itself so lean that the engine exploded just past half track. The explosion and loss of power allowed a tire smoking Melanie Troxel to drive around Neff for the win.
In 1999 Hight was on the John Force Funny Car team that took on the “Kings of the Sport” in the Winston Showdown event at the newly remodeled Thunder Valley Dragway in Bristol.
“I remember when John beat the dragsters in the Winston Showdown, the Funny Car vs. Top Fuel race. He had the Superman Mustang and a Superman fire suit. It was awesome. I was on his crew then and to see the Funny Cars running with the Top Fuel dragsters was great,” said Hight, a 21-time Funny Car winner.
So far this season it has been either Hight or teammate Mike Neff in the points lead. Hight opened the season with a win at his home track in Pomona, California and has picked up two more wins as his team heads to Bristol.
“This season has been feast of famine for my Auto Club Mustang. We have won three races but we also have three first round losses. That is a tough way to try and win a Funny Car championship. I know Jimmy is looking at a couple of things and we are sneaking up on a consistent tune up. The big thing for us is we never get too high off a win and we never get too low off a tough weekend.”
“I am excited to be heading back to Bristol because I have been having some luck this season getting some firsts. I defended my Topeka championship this year and that was the first time I have ever gone back to back at an event. This is the earliest I have ever had three wins. I was also luck enough to win the 200th Funny Car race for John Force Racing in Topeka. Neff picked up the 201st win in Englishtown and I know we can get to 300 Funny Car wins. It won’t happen this year of course but I would love to get more wins in the last half of the regular season and then battle Neff and Force for the championship in the Countdown.”
Hight and Neff have won five of the first eight races in the 2011 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and they have also appeared in an additional two finals. John Force Racing has had a representative in every final round with the exception of the 2nd annual Four Wide NHRA National event.