ROBERT HIGHT HIGHT LOOKING TO REGAIN CHAMPIONSHIP FORM (ATLANTA) --- For the past three years when race day started at the Southern Nationals for Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang he made the most laps of anyone on the property. Last...
ROBERT HIGHT HIGHT LOOKING TO REGAIN CHAMPIONSHIP FORM
(ATLANTA) --- For the past three years when race day started at the Southern Nationals for Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang he made the most laps of anyone on the property. Last year he raced to the winners circle for the first time at Atlanta Dragway after two previous runner-up finishes.
The 2005 Rookie of the Year doesn't know what it is about the former air strip that has him flying high with confidence again this year, but he is looking forward to getting back to his winning ways starting on April 25th when the NHRA Funny Cars make their first qualifying attempts.
"I've been to all three finals since I've been there. We like it there obviously and my crew chief Jimmy (Prock) has done well there before me," said the defending event champion. "Actually all of us do well there. John (Force) has had good luck there. John and I raced in the finals in 2005. Ashley (Force) made it to the semi-finals last year."
Hight opened the 2008 season with a win at the Winternationals in Pomona and added a runner-up finish two weeks later at the CSK Nationals in Phoenix. The favorite to pick up his first Funny Car world championship was sitting atop the point standings for the fourth season in a row but he knew in the back of his mind that his team was vulnerable. A first round loss at the Gatornationals combined with an uncharacteristic DNQ in Houston dropped the former world class marksman from the top spot to fourth in points.
A variety of issues came to light over the next few weeks most pointing to the lack of testing time and the new heavier -- but safer -- chassis that forced Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock to re-evaluate their qualifying and race day strategies.
They bounced back with their first No. 1 qualifying effort of the season in Las Vegas two weeks ago and after an additional day of testing they feel they are primed to make a few more adjustments and start getting back to championship form.
"We added some down force because we are changing the weight balance around. We are moving some things like the fire extinguishers to the rear for traction so when you do that you risk carrying the front end and not being able to steer the thing," said the fastest driver in the Funny Car class to win 100 rounds. "We have a lot to learn this weekend. We are going to try a lot of different things to give this Mustang more traction."
Hight knows that racing in the South brings with it an eager fan base and unique opportunities for his sponsors.
"The fans are great. They get a lot more NASCAR than we get out here in the West but there are still the die-hard drag racing fans and the fans that like both NHRA and NASCAR. Everybody is just really friendly in that area. I look forward to going to Atlanta Dragway every year that is for sure."