Charlotte II: Robert Hight preview

HIGHT EYES CHARLOTTE CHAMPIONSHIP REPEAT CHARLOTTE, NC (September 14, 2010) --- When people talk about Mojo they are usually referencing someone's self-confidence or their ability to bounce back from a debilitating trauma and negative ...


CHARLOTTE, NC (September 14, 2010) --- When people talk about Mojo they are usually referencing someone's self-confidence or their ability to bounce back from a debilitating trauma and negative attitude.

Robert Hight has never lost his Mojo but his first round exit two weeks ago at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals during the first race of the Countdown to 1 depleted his Mojo tank. Hight is looking for a refill and he has the perfect event this weekend when you consider he'll be returning to the 3rd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway.

Last season Hight came into Concord in 10th place in the Countdown to 1 play-off race and was honestly just looking to see what could happen. His Auto Club Ford Mustang blew the field away on race day and Hight raced into his first winner's circle of the 2009 season. His Auto Club team carried that momentum to Dallas for another win and ultimately Charlotte was the springboard to the former John Force Racing crewman's first NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship.

"Last year we came into Charlotte with no pressure. I am not putting any pressure on myself or my guys this weekend. I love that about my sponsor Auto Club of Southern California too, last year they didn't put any pressure on us when we were struggling. This year it is the same. They just want us to go out and do our best. Indy was not our best. No one is out of the championship right now and we will get right back into the thick of things this weekend. It will be a battle all the way to Pomona," said Hight.

Hight has said throughout the 2010 season that he did not want a repeat performance of 2009 where he struggled and then got hot over the last six races. He has made good on that promise winning a career best four races so far this season including three in a row in May. Hight led the Funny Car point standings for two weeks grabbing the top spot from boss and Funny Car legend John Force before relinquishing the No. 1 position by one point at the end of the regular season.

Hight and Force both dominated the regular season each winning four times. They dueled to the top spot until the final race of the regular season in Brainerd. During the first race of the Countdown to 1 it was Force who created more separation from his self described "top driver" by racing to a runner-up finish. Hight's uncharacteristic first round loss to Paul Lee in Indianapolis was traced back to a clutch malfunction.

"We had a clutch malfunction and it just got too much clutch. It got a lot of clutch all at once and it couldn't take it. It doesn't make a difference when it happens. A first round loss is a first round loss. It is not good. Points are points. When you add the points up it doesn't matter where you lost first round whether it was the first race the middle race or the last it doesn't matter," said a dejected Hight at the end of the race.

Hight's only other first round losses occurred in the season opening Winternationals, the Las Vegas event, the 4Wide race at zMax Dragway, and the June Bristol event. Ironically in all five of the races Hight was a first round loser teammate John Force raced to the final and in three instances he took the win.

In Hight's previous two races at zMax Dragway in the fall his Auto Club Ford Mustang has been dominant even though at the inaugural event he was dispatched by Jack Beckman in the semi-final round. In that race Beckman reached the finish line before Hight even though Hight ran a 4.10 to Beckman's 4.15; the reason a supernatural .002 reaction time by Beckman. Hight's 4.10 that day was the quickest run by any Funny Car at zMax Dragway at the inaugural event.

With five races left in the Countdown to 1 play-offs Hight sits No. 5 in the Full Throttle point standings 81 points behind John Force who still has the No. 1 spot. However, Hight is only 21 points behind No. 2 driver Jack Beckman. With the qualifying bonus points structure Hight could enter race day less than a round (each round win is worth 20 points) out of second place and less than four rounds behind Force.

"Our Auto Club Ford Mustang has thundered at zMax Dragway. We love the all-concrete tracks. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock can create a lot of horsepower and we can really run well. We have to keep doing the little things. Every point counts and I know my guys will give me a great Mustang," said the defending champion.

"Last year winning Charlotte got us on the right track but they didn't give me the championship trophy that day. We had to win in Dallas and Las Vegas and keep the pressure on all the teams all of the Countdown races. I personally think if you can average a semi-final finish over the Countdown you should have the best shot of getting that Full Throttle championship trophy in Pomona," concluded Hight.

-source: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Jack Beckman , Paul Lee , Robert Hight