Las Vegas II: Robert Hight preview

HIGHT LOOKING FOR A LITTLE LUCK IN VEGAS LAS VEGAS (October 27, 2008) --- With only two races left in the 2008 POWERade season Robert Hight and his Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang team know their backs are against the wall.


LAS VEGAS (October 27, 2008) --- With only two races left in the 2008 POWERade season Robert Hight and his Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang team know their backs are against the wall. They are in 5th place in the point standings 92 points behind Funny Car leader Tim Wilkerson but only 42 points behind number two man Jack Beckman.

Hight has finished as the POWERade Funny Car championship runner-up the past two seasons and throughout the 2008 season he has consistently been recognized as one of the drivers to beat. This weekend he will have to make a move if he wants to keep that dream alive for this season. Hight, ever the optimist, with the never give up attitude shared by all his John Force Racing teammates is looking forward to getting to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend.

"It's not over. We can't give up and we can't hang our heads. We have to keep working hard. We still have a shot. We have a good running car. The motor ran good all weekend in Richmond. It had eight cylinders. It is responding to changes that crew chief Jimmy Prock is making and the fuel system is all good. We just have to make sure we don't have anything else bite us," said Hight after a disappointing second round exit in Richmond.

Hight has had moments of success at The Strip winning an emotional title at the Spring event in 2007 but the Fall installment has not been kind to the 2005 NHRA rookie of the year. He has never advanced past the first round in the three races he has competed at the ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals. He knows that streak is going to have to end if he hopes to get into the championship winner's circle.

"Honestly, we need to win both races to have any kind of shot at winning this thing. I guess you could go to the final both races, too, and still win, depending on what the other guys do. And we have no control over what they do until we race them -- and we really still don't have any control. We have to do everything right and we have to make our car is flawless," said Hight.

His team has taken advantage of every opportunity to make their car better including a late season test session before the Richmond race that Hight feels will pay dividends as the season wraps up. He has already seen immediate performance results considering he made the quickest pass since the NHRA shortened the racing distance laying down a monster 4.005 second run in the first round versus John Force in Richmond.

"Before we went to Richmond we tested, and I think we made big strides in our engine combination. We went to Richmond and didn't drop cylinders like we had been having trouble with. We just actually were a little too cautious in the second round, and it shook, it was weak. And I can say we've lost the other way around, from being too aggressive. So, honestly, we've probably lost more from being aggressive than we have from being cautious, so we've got to find that in-between and still be able to win because everybody's running pretty close to each other. It's tough," said Hight.

Last year Hight was joined by Mike Neff at the ACDelco Nationals for his title run along with veteran Phil Burkhart. This season he is looking forward to having teammates 2007 rookie of the year Ashley Force, 14-time champion John Force, and 2008 rookie of the year front runner Mike Neff racing him. With three JFR drivers working together Hight feels he still has a good shot at his first championship.

"(Racing for the championship again) is huge but I honestly believed the day I stepped into this car that it could win a championship if I could do my job. I knew the team and (crew chief) Jimmy Prock with the resources we have from the get go it could win a championship. The big question was; can the driver do his job? In the beginning until you have won races and done anything you don't know. It is not that you doubt yourself you just don't know because you haven't done it," said the two-time championship runner-up. "I still haven't won a championship but I know I can. There is no doubt in my mind."

As if Hight needed any additional motivation for success this weekend he will be unveiling a Los Angeles Dodgers commemorative Ford Mustang for the final two races of the season. A life-long Dodgers fan Hight threw out the first pitch earlier this season at a Dodgers game and now he will be competing flying the Dodgers colors on his Mustang as well as an Impact custom designed fire suit.

"The Dodgers had a stretch there where they lost eight in a row, and they came back. You know what? If we do the same thing with the race team, it's not over yet. A lot of people would've written them off when they lost eight in a row, and they ended up getting five or six games back, and they just kept working at it, working as a team, and they came through, and that's what we need to do. It's exciting watching them, and, you know, we're going to have a Dodgers car the last two races of the year." added Hight.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Tim Wilkerson , Jack Beckman , Ashley Force , Robert Hight , Mike Neff