MEDICAL CONDITION TEMPORARILY SIDELINES COIL AT U.S. NATIONALS Situation Puts Hight Back with Prock in Bid for Final Berth in Countdown to One INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Robert Hight will be re-united with crew chief Jimmy Prock more ...
MEDICAL CONDITION TEMPORARILY SIDELINES COIL AT U.S. NATIONALS Situation Puts Hight Back with Prock in Bid for Final Berth in Countdown to One
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Robert Hight will be re-united with crew chief Jimmy Prock more quickly than team owner John Force originally had anticipated, the result of steps taken Thursday after Hall of Fame crew chief Austin Coil was forced to bow out of this week's 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals for health reasons.
Coil, the architect of the John Force Racing dynasty that has delivered 15 series championships and 180 NHRA Funny Car victories over the last 25 seasons, checked himself into an Indianapolis hospital after becoming ill on Wednesday. He will remain hospitalized under observation for 4-5 days while doctors conduct a battery of tests.
As a result, Hight, who had been on temporary assignment to the team anchored by Coil and Bernie Fedderly, will be back in his original chassis with his original Automobile Club of Southern California crew when qualifying begins Friday at O'Reilly Raceway Park.
A Top 5 finisher in each of his first four seasons with John Force Racing, Inc., Hight is the defending U.S. Nationals champion and has been to the final round in the world's oldest, largest, richest and most prestigious drag race three straight years.
Meanwhile, Force also will return to the car in which he began the season after reaching the semifinals two weeks ago in a Prock-prepared Ford.
"I wanted Robert to go into the biggest race of the year with confidence and I decided that putting him back with Jimmy Prock was best," Force said. "That's the team he's been with and I showed at Reading that Jimmy's car is starting to come around.
"I'm going back with Bernie," Force said. "He'll run my car with help from 'Guido' (Dean Antonelli, crew chief on daughter Ashley Force Hood's Castrol GTX Mustang) and the rest of my brain trust. That's why we've trained back-ups at every position, so that when someone goes down, we don't miss a step.
"Even though he's in the hospital, Coil will be involved in all the decisions. He told me he's going to be fine. At the end of the day, the best medicine for Coil is for us to go out and win a drag race."