HIGHT PROVISIONAL NO. 1 AT TEXAS MOTORPLEX JFR Grabs Four of Top Five Provisional Qual. Spots DALLAS, TX --- Robert Hight and the Auto Club Texas Ford Mustang team continued their hot streak by racing to the top of the Funny Car field on Friday...
HIGHT PROVISIONAL NO. 1 AT TEXAS MOTORPLEX
JFR Grabs Four of Top Five Provisional Qual. Spots
DALLAS, TX --- Robert Hight and the Auto Club Texas Ford Mustang team continued their hot streak by racing to the top of the Funny Car field on Friday night at the 24th annual O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals. Hight a back-to-back finalist the past two NHRA races is looking to continue his rise up the Full Throttle Funny Car point standings.
"It's been a great day so far. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) told me before the run that he thought it would run about a 4.12. So when they told me on the radio it ran a 4.10 I was pretty surprised. Honestly the way Ashley's (teammate Ashley Force Hood) Mustang has been running and Tony (Pedregon) has been running I didn't think it would hold up," said a relieved Hight.
"When you look back at it now and the closest to us is 4.14 seconds and that is John (Force). That is a pretty impressive run. We looked at the data and it was safe everywhere. It was just a good way to start the weekend. We kind of got on a roll here," said Hight. "People have been joking with me saying we sandbagged all year. That is not the approach we took. Trust me. I would have loved to have had this (success) a lot sooner. We are definitely going to take it. The goal is to keep running with it. We tried too hard the first run. We knew we needed to go down the race track tonight. You see that 4.10 on the board and that is pretty gutsy."
"Tomorrow we are going to have to run in the heat and practice for Sunday. It is going to be hot out there. I think all of our cars and in the top half so that is exciting. Hopefully we won't run into each other until late in the day on Sunday. We love coming to the Texas Motorplex. There is a lot of history here. Billy Meyer and Raymond Beadle; a lot of the good ones came from Texas."
Hight was not going to take anything for granted going into the second day of qualifying. In fact by virtue of being the provisional number one qualifier Hight and the Auto Club team plan on maximizing the opportunity to pick up more qualifying bonus points.
"We are going to shoot for those bonus points. Trust me want to be near the top every session tomorrow and that is our goal. We have to do a little better than everyone else. By running well tonight it puts us in the back of the pack both runs tomorrow. We can watch the guys in front of us and see what they run. It gives us an idea of what is out there. Tonight's run was huge. It is so important in how it sets up the weekend. I want to get two sessions in tomorrow so we can try and get some points," said Hight who is 27 points out of first place.
Hight picked up the all-important three bonus points for making the quickest run of the qualifying session. He has been battling a cold the past two days and getting inside a quick Mustang has been just the medicine Hight needed.
Right behind Hight is team leader John Force and the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang team. Force, returning to the Texas Motorplex site of his horrific 2007 crash and track that he has raced to thirteen final rounds, is looking to pick up his first win of 2009. He has won at least one event the past 22 year seasons, an NHRA record shared with Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson.
"It was a good run. It felt smooth all the way down. 4.14 is good; the motor was good. Austin Coil's back on the starting line and everything's good. We thought it might run a little bit better but I was more surprised that Ashley only ran 17. It looked like it was going okay. Jimmy Prock and Robert Hight, that was impressive," said Force, a thirteen time finalist at the Texas Motorplex.
Ashley Force Hood started the day off on the right foot by making the quickest pass of the first qualifying session and grabbing the three bonus qualifying points. For her effort she moved into a tie for the Full Throttle Funny Car point standings with Tony Pedregon. In the second session both she and Pedregon made less than stellar runs.
"We expected to run somewhere close to what Robert ran. It was doing okay until it got about 1.2 seconds in and then it dropped a cylinder. Tomorrow it's going to be a little warmer and we'll be trying to work on the application for Sunday. It was going pretty good in the first session today so we'll work off of that," said Castrol GTX co-crew chief Dean "Guido" Antonelli.
2008 Rookie of the Year Mike Neff is looking for his first career win and his John Medlen tuned Ford Drive One Mustang is primed for success after grabbing the provisional No. 5 spot on Friday night. Neff was beside Hight during the final session on Friday and runs of 4.109 and 4.181 were the quickest side by side run of the session.
"We thought it was going to run better than that, but we didn't want to smoke the tires. We definitely wanted to make sure we got down the track tonight because we know tomorrow it's gonna be hot. Like any race track, when the surface gets 115-120 degrees, it just gets slick and tricky. This is a good race track but just any racetrack when the temperature gets that high like we're expecting the next couple of days, it's a challenge," said Neff.
"It's going to be 10 degrees hotter Sunday than it was today. Seven degrees hotter tomorrow, so we'll be trying to make a good run for what the conditions are and getting ready for race day. We would have liked to run a little better tonight but for whatever reason, it didn't."