John Force Racing press release
HIGHT READY, EXCITED FOR NHRA COUNTDOWN
Charlotte, NC (September 13, 2011) --- The NHRA Countdown starts this weekend and that means that ten Funny Car teams have a chance to win the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Championship. Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang proved in 2009 that once you are in it, you can win it, racing from the No 10 spot to his first NHRA Funny Car championship.
Last year Hight also proved that just because you dominate in the regular season, past performance does not guarantee future success as the four-time 2010 national event winner did not win a single round of racing over the final six races of the season.
This year Hight has once again won four national events, second behind teammate Mike Neff (5 wins), but this year he is more focused on making the most of every round in both qualifying and in eliminations.
“I am excited to be working with (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and my team going into the Countdown. We have run really well this season and we were in a great position to dominate at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals but we had a malfunction in the first round. I know Jimmy will have this Auto Club Ford Mustang running great and I am going to do my best to bring my ‘A’ game to the starting line every time we pull up to the tree,” said Hight.
For Hight returning to zMax Dragway fills him with confidence because of the success John Force Racing has had at the “Bellagio of Drag Strips.” Hight won the O’Reilly NHRA Nationals in 2009, John Force won the inaugural Four-Wide NHRA National event, and Mike Neff won the first four-wide exhibition race in the fall of 2009.
“I have been No. 1 qualifier here and all three of our current drivers have won races here. I don’t know what it is about racing here but maybe it is being in NASCAR country and in the shadows of Charlotte Motor Speedway,” said Hight, who is also a huge NASCAR fan. “I want to win races. I want to put on a good show because the crowd here is still new to NHRA. We want them to get the same passion for drag racing that they have for stock car racing.”
When Hight talks about getting No. 1 qualifiers at Charlotte he knows that that is a reflection of how strong his team has been over the past seven seasons. No driver has scored more No. 1s than Hight and he is on the verge of joining an elite group of drivers when he picks up his next top qualifier. Currently Hight has 39 No. 1s and only three Funny Car drivers have 40 or more. It is a “Who’s Who” of Funny Car champions including teammate and legend John Force, Kenny Bernstein and Cruz Pedregon.
“Getting 40 No. 1s is a nice round number but you still have to win races. Our focus on the next six races is to look at qualifying bonus points and round win points as the most important things,” added Hight. “I honestly think if you can average semi-final finishes you will have one of the best shots at the championship. What you almost have to avoid is first round losses,” said Hight.
The comparisons between the NHRA’s Countdown and NASCAR’s Chase are discussed in the pits, in media centers and on the internet. Hight has his own opinion of how the two groups of drivers approach their championship play-offs.
“We only have six races so we have to focus on winning. I think some of the guys over in NASCAR are shooting for Top Five finishes rather than wins. That is how their system is set up so I get it but, I like our Countdown. It is short and sweet and it is all about winning. This year any one of the Funny Cars in the Countdown could get hot and rip off a couple wins in a row. I plan on that car being my Auto Club Ford Mustang,” concluded Hight.