HIGHT AND FORCE HOOD HEAT UP IN FINAL QUAL FOR US NATS INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang made the most of their final two qualifying runs recording laps of 4.095 and 4.103 seconds. In both sessions he earned ...
HIGHT AND FORCE HOOD HEAT UP IN FINAL QUAL FOR US NATS
INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang made the most of their final two qualifying runs recording laps of 4.095 and 4.103 seconds. In both sessions he earned qualifying bonus points for being one of the three quickest cars in the session. He will head into eliminations with a lot of momentum based on his qualifying performance. For the weekend Hight earned nine bonus points and that has the 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion ready to attack race day.
"(Getting good times) was pretty important both times today. We gained points every run we went down the track and the one time we didn't get points we were shooting for the moon. That was last night. We gained some of those important qualifying points. I think we gained nine this weekend. I am not just counting points against John (Force) it is against everybody. If you can have a couple races like this then at the end of the season you have a round on somebody. Every run we make is important," said the No. 3 qualifier.
"Tomorrow it is supposed to be hot. Lane choice could be critical. I just believe we are just scratching the surface. I think we have a good shot."
For a four-time finalist and two-time winner at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Hight is not looking backwards to gain confidence for tomorrow's first round match-up with Paul Lee.
"I don't look back at previous races here. You could let your guard down. This is another race that you have to win first round. Once that happens then you move onto second round and so on. You don't really get too excited until you get to the final," said the 18-time national event winner.
Hight has never qualified No. 3 at Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. In his previous five races he has qualified No. 1 once (2010), No. 2 twice (2005 and 2006), No. 4 once (2007) and No. 5 once (2008). He has reached the final round the past four years in a row and has won twice (2006 and 2008). A win tomorrow would tie him with Cruz Pedregon in 3rd place for most Funny Car Indy wins with three behind Ed "Ace" McCulloch (5), John Force and Don Prudhomme (4).
Teammate Ashley Force Hood also made the most of the warmer temperatures powering her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang down the O'Reilly Raceway Park track in 4.077 and 4.147 seconds. The 4.077 second run was good enough for two bonus points in the first session on Saturday.
"Of all the runs we made in qualifying I think the most important ones were the ones today. We were in the heat and it got hotter as we got later in the day. Night sessions are fun and they give us position in qualifying but really it is the day runs setting us up for tomorrow. If we can make a few runs tomorrow like we did today we could be in really good shape," said the defending Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Funny Car champion.
With wins in two different categories Force Hood knows how to handle the pressure of race day at the biggest race of the year. As the Top Alcohol Dragster winner in 2004 and the Funny Car winner last year Force Hood is looking forward to getting race day started.
"I think there is such a big deal made about Indy that if you have already been there and won it then you have this pressure lifted off your shoulders. You know winning Indy is possible. You have done it. I have done it twice along with some of my crew guys. It is definitely within our grasp. I don't remember how we qualified last year or how we qualified in 2004 when I won in Top Alcohol Dragster but we did really well on Monday and that is what matters," said Force Hood. "Our confidence is up especially with how qualifying went. The different countdown structure has really been the best for us. We have cleared the slate and this is the second start to the season. If we can turn it around tomorrow and have the kind of day we know we can we'll be right up there in the points."
The dramatic moment of the day for John Force Racing occurred in the final qualifying session when Hight and Force were slated to run beside one another. Hight fired his Auto Club Ford Mustang and executed a spectacular burn out. As he came to a stop he was notified that Force was having trouble starting his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Hight slowed down his procedure to give the 14-time champion a chance to fire his Mustang.
"I should have called the Auto Club up there. (My Mustang) wouldn't start and they tried it like three times and then boom it tried to hit. Robert had already done his burn out and was backing up. I just spun the tires out there and then backed it up real quick. I wanted to give the fans a side by side race but I didn't want to screw up Robert and Jimmy Prock in that Auto Club Ford. It was going pretty good and then it just banged. I didn't put any heat in it. I got me a brand new Kymco bike. It is green and I am going for a ride to get ready for tomorrow," said the No. 5 qualifier.
Force will face off with the most recent NHRA national event winner Bob Bode in the opening round. As a four-time winner at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Force is looking forward to race day and he knows that Indy is a place that holds a special place in his heart. Coming to Indy and the success he has had here revolved around his young family and his respect for the many racing legends he watched compete and competed against.
"(Winning Indy) is pretty important. I have pictures of winning Indy and the Big Bud Shootout and carrying (daughters) Brittany and my youngest Courtney on my shoulders. Now Courtney wants to race a Funny Car and Ashley just ran a 4.07. For me there are so many memories but coming out here with Bob Glidden it is just great to see the legends. Garlits was here and Shirley Muldowney. This is what I live for. Indy is what it is all about. I am glad it is Indy. I love Indy," said Force.
Legendary crew chief Austin Coil talked about how critical his success at Indy nearly three decades ago was to starting his spectacular career.
"When I was running my car the Chi-Town Hustler we came here and took every dollar we had and bought parts to come here and race. We were close in the championship points chase and we said if we don't leave Indy with any money we are parked because we can't afford to go to the coast and finish. We won the first Big Bud Shootout and that money funded us going to the West Coast and we won the championship that year. That was a really memorable year in 1982 with Frank Hawley driving for me," said the 16-time world champion crew chief.
As far as his success at John Force Racing for Coil he remembered their days of dominance in 1993 and 1996 when he and Force had the most dominant Funny Car on the property and won the double up bonus.
"We got the double header here a few years ago a couple of times. It has been a good track for us."
While Force was excited to be racing on Monday he was disappointed that Blue Oval Pro Stock competitor Bob Glidden narrowly missed the show.
"It was an honor to be racing for Ford Racing with Bob Glidden. He is a living legend and it was great to see him out here in a Ford Mustang Pro Stocker. He is going to make a few more races and he got better every run this weekend. It was just great to see him out here and to see how many fans got excited to see him" said Force.