Dallas: Robert Hight preview

HIGHT WANTS TO GET HOT AGAIN AT TEXAS MOTORPLEX ENNIS, TX (September 17, 2008) --- The race for the 2008 Funny Car POWERade Championship is tightening up and even only one race into the Countdown and with five to go the pressure is ratcheting up...


ENNIS, TX (September 17, 2008) --- The race for the 2008 Funny Car POWERade Championship is tightening up and even only one race into the Countdown and with five to go the pressure is ratcheting up to unprecedented heights. Robert Hight and his Automobile Club of Southern California team are sitting in fourth place only seven points behind the points leader Cruz Pedregon.

Last weekend in Charlotte Hight had the best race car on zMax Dragway at Concord yet he was still defeated by drag racing instructor and cancer survivor Jack Beckman. In their semi-final race Hight's Jimmy Prock tuned Ford Mustang made the quickest pass of the day, a blistering 4.10 second run, in the heat unfortunately Beckman had a nearly perfect .002 reaction time combined with a 4.15 second run giving him enough of a starting line advantage to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

"I knew I wasn't late. I knew it. As my foot was going down on the throttle I heard him (Jack Beckman) leave. He was out there on me just a little past half track he came back to me. I was running really strong through the middle but I honestly knew I was running out of race track. I knew I wasn't going to run him down. I guess it is one of those deals where it might have made me feel a little bit better if I would have gotten off of it so my ET wouldn't have looked to good," said Hight. "Then I heard Jimmy say he got us. One of my guys at the top end told me he had an .002 light. You are not going to beat a guy if he guesses like that. I guess that is a good feeling knowing that a guy goes up there and takes a shot at you because he knows that you are going to be right there with him."

Hight's championship aspirations and strategy have been top of mind all season. While his team has struggled at times as the season comes to an end Hight thinks he has the car and the team to get the job done.

"We have a lot of confidence the way this Mustang ran in the heat (in Charlotte). We ran low ET of the eliminations in the hottest part of the day. We had a good car and we have to just keep going on and continuing to keep going rounds. What is cool is (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) is always so aggressive, always looking at different things to make the car faster, but (in Charlotte) he said we are not going to give this thing away. He said there is room in this thing to tune it up but he said we are going to just go down the track and we are not going to let these guys beat us," said Hight. "We are not going to give this away by smoking the tires. He said if it comes to the late rounds and we are racing (Jack) Beckman or Cruz (Pedregon) he said there is room to tune this thing up then we will get after it and take a risk."

Heading into the 23rd annual O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex Hight is looking to go back in time.

In 2006 Robert Hight dominated the NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. He was the number one qualifier and won the race year after setting the track mile per hour record. He narrowly missed the Funny Car Championship that year finishing second in just his second year behind the wheel of the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang.

The next year Hight was in the thick of the inaugural Countdown to 1 championship. He was one of the favorites to capture the title. Heading back to a track that he had dominated just the year before Hight was a surprising non-qualifier and his title hopes took a body blow that he was unable to recover from. At the end of the season Hight was 19 points away from the Funny Car title and he took that disappointment and channeled it into the 2008 season.

Hight opened the 2008 POWERade season with a win at the Winternationals, he took an emotional win in Sonoma extending to three a win streak started by fallen teammate Eric Medlen in 2006, and Labor Day weekend Hight won the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals for the second time in three years. Heading into the Countdown to 1 Hight was focused on putting pressure on his competitors.

"Even though we are not putting up the quickest runs all the time they know we can do it at any time especially now that we ran that 4.10 in the heat (during the semi of Charlotte). That is going to do a lot for everyone on this team's confidence. We out qualified all the Countdown cars (in Charlotte) and that is big. If you can do that every race that can add up to at least one round of racing six races from now. Another round would be just like me making the final here," said Hight. "If you get another round in qualifying for the six races it is just like going to the final here. I am not going to say it is going to be easy. There are good cars and good drivers out there but I like my chances."

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Cruz Pedregon , Jack Beckman , Eric Medlen , Robert Hight