Seattle: Robert Hight preview

HIGHT SEES PROGRESS, EXCITED ABOUT SEATTLE SEATTLE, WA (July 14, 2009) --- There are five races left before the cut-off for the NHRA Countdown to One Championship. Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang have been taking baby steps towards...

HIGHT SEES PROGRESS, EXCITED ABOUT SEATTLE

SEATTLE, WA (July 14, 2009) --- There are five races left before the cut-off for the NHRA Countdown to One Championship. Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang have been taking baby steps towards qualifying since Chicago but this weekend at the 22nd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals the No. 12 positioned Funny Car driver wants to start making big strides up the points list.

On the first stop of the Western Swing in Denver Hight made some progress on the mountaintop at Bandimere Speedway advancing to the semi-finals and defeating one of the drivers he is chasing closely rookie Matt Hagan in the process.

After his second round victory over Hagan Hight knew he still had some work cut out for himself.

"Right now (points) is all this Auto Club Ford is thinking. We dug ourselves a hole and we have to get back into this top end. To beat that Matt Hagan guy (in the second round) was big. They are a great team over there. They are one of the teams that are ahead of us," said Hight.

He was motivated by the driver he beat in the first round, father-in-law and teammate John Force, who issued a challenge to the veteran driver.

"John Force said when I beat him first round that I better not beat him and then go out and lose the next round. He said I better get this Ford Mustang into the semis," said Hight.

Unfortunately for Hight a trip to the finals was delayed when he ran into one of the hottest drivers and funny cars on the tour sister-in-law Ashley Force Hood. In the semis Hight made a solid pass but Force Hood and her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang were a little better.

The past three seasons Hight has been the No. 1 qualifier at the NHRA Northwest Nationals and that kind of qualifying effort would be a big help this weekend where every point has huge meaning. Hight and teammate Mike Neff are battling to get into the Top Ten and they know that the combination of high qualifying and multiple round wins on Sunday will be the key to their collective success.

The 2005 NHRA Rookie of the Year is excited for the first time in while this season. He never lost confidence with crew chief Jimmy Prock or his team but they struggled to start the season trying to make a tricky new clutch set-up work. Finally, the team decided to reverse course prior to the Chicago national event and since that time Hight has seen steady improvement in his Auto Club Mustangs performance.

"The biggest plus is this Mustang is tuneable for (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) now. We have been running better in qualifying on Friday which lets us run later in the session on Saturday. It has been tough to have to race your teammates but we need to start racing some of these other guys to make up some points. I like to be able to look at the track and clear my head before we run and lately I have been able to do that. That is a big plus for us," said Hight.

"Seattle has been a track where we have run well in qualifying. I went to the finals my rookie year. I want to go some rounds on Sunday and build some momentum before the Countdown to One starts," concluded Hight.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Matt Hagan , Mike Neff