DEFENDING FUNNY CAR WORLD CHAMP HIGHT COMES TO INDY IN DIFFERENT POSITION AS HE WORKS TO REPEAT IN THE COUNTDOWN CLERMONT, Ind. - The way Robert Hight looks at it, he's had one heck of a title defense season in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. He's...
DEFENDING FUNNY CAR WORLD CHAMP HIGHT COMES TO INDY IN DIFFERENT POSITION AS HE WORKS TO REPEAT IN THE COUNTDOWN
CLERMONT, Ind. - The way Robert Hight looks at it, he's had one heck of a title defense season in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. He's already set a personal best for victories in a season at four, and won three races in a row in early summer. He's led the points for parts of the season and finished the regular season just a few points behind his team owner, John Force.
So as he and his team gear up for what should be an exciting and challenging run in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs, Hight knows this is no time for reflection. Sure, his team has come a long way in a year. Last year the team barely qualified for the playoffs and then made a thrilling underdog charge to take the crown.
As he prepares to try and win his third Funny Car title at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil Sept. 1-6, Hight comes to historic O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis for the world's most prestigious drag race with a quiet sense of confidence based on his team's consistent efforts during the regular season.
"The most I had ever won in a season was three races, and we have already won four this year," Hight said. "At this point last year, we hadn't even been in a final. We were very optimistic as the 2010 season started, hoping to start off where we finished last year. We have done that. What matters now is what we do going forward. If we stay together as a team and work together, help each other like we have always done in the past then I believe our chances are good. You are never going to predict a championship, but I am very optimistic."
Hight comes to Indy riding a streak of four consecutive final round appearances at the Big Go. With wins at Indy in 2006 and 2008, Hight would like to add a third trophy to his collection this season. Last year he finished a close second to teammate Ashley Force Hood, who made some history at the event by becoming only the third female to win drag racing's super bowl in a pro division.
Defending winner Force Hood leads a host of competitors who will be trying to win the prestigious event and get their playoff runs off to a good start. The Funny Car field has proven to be one of the most competitive classes of the season with eight different winners. In the past, several first-time Funny Car winners have emerged at Indy as well. Starting with Force, who has won the race four times, three-time winner Cruz Pedregon and past winners Del Worsham, Jim Head and Tim Wilkerson are certainly in the mix. The field also contains a host of drivers who are hungry to win the race for the first time, like Ron Capps, Tony Pedregon, Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan and Bob Tasca, among others.
"This is the biggest race we have all year long," Hight said. "This is the grand daddy of them all. Don Garlits once told me that because I had won Indy I could retire now. I want to win championships though. I want to win more Indys and more championships. This is a great place to start the Countdown and we have had good luck there."
And when it comes to the Countdown, Hight has shown he can make it happen, no matter what position he's in at the beginning of the playoffs.
"We proved last year that if you are in the top 10, you can win it," Hight said. "It is all about timing, having your act together and getting your combination right. You also need some luck along the way."