John Force Racing press release
HIGHT TOPS ON FRIDAY AT BIG O TIRES NATIONALS
LAS VEGAS, NV --- On Friday at the 11th annual NHRA Big O Tires Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang took a page from the St. Louis Cardinals and kept battling for their second Full Throttle Funny Car championship by running the low ET of Friday. Crew chief Jimmy Prock tuned up Hight’s Funny Car and made a 4.085 second pass that stood up through the whole session securing the top spot and three valuable qualifying bonus points.
“As long as I am still mathematically in it going in to Pomona that is what is important. You look at game 6 of the World Series and what happened there, that is a perfect example of why you don’t ever, ever give up. You battle right now to the last out, the last pitch and that is what the Cardinals did,” said Hight, an avid baseball fan. “That was the most amazing game I have ever watched. You are on the edge of your seat. Coming back from being two runs down twice is the same attitude John (Force) has taught me and everyone on our team. No matter what you don’t ever, ever believe you are out of it. We hope we don’t come down to that here in Las Vegas. As long as we have a legitimate shot leaving here, that is the mental attitude you have to have.”
In the first session Hight was the slowest Funny Car, smoking the tires before half track. He was the first Funny Car to make a run of the second session and blazed down the race track. Considering the NHRA is in Las Vegas Hight did not consider placing a bet on his chances of staying No. 1.
“That is one reason why I don’t gamble when I come to Las Vegas. I would have bet anything with anybody that that run would have stuck. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and I talked and we were just hoping to get down the track since we didn’t in the first session. We were trying to get a run that was top four,” said Hight. “That is where you need to be on race day to have lane choice and hopefully not run into your teammates early. I would have never bet that run would have held up. There were a lot of good cars behind me and it stuck.”
“Jimmy Prock just goes up there with a lot of confidence and he makes this Auto Club Ford thunder. We love racing here in as Vegas. We won here earlier this year but this is exactly what we need to do to get right back in the hunt.”
“Tomorrow we run early and if we can get out there before it heats up that 4.08 is probably not safe. I’ll sleep a lot better tonight knowing we are No. 1. We haven’t had a lot of these. This is the least amount of these I have had in my career in a season. We have struggled but we have still won five races,” said the Las Vegas Nationals spring winner. “What really matters is what you do on Sunday. What we really need is four of those 4.08s on Sunday. That is what it is going to take to beat Hagan, Beckman, or Cruz. They made some really nice runs on a hot track in Phoenix. These are great conditions on a great race track. I really expected more guys to step up.”
When asked in the pressroom if he had been thinking about championship possibilities during the off week Hight confessed it the thought had run through his mind.
“It is in the back of my mind. I have to be careful and not over think it. You saw what I did in Phoenix when I red-lit for the first time. It doesn’t do any good to worry about it or think about it. You have to just come out here and do the best we can,” said the 2009 Funny Car champion.
Mike Neff took a major step forward in closing the gap on points leader Jack Beckman when he recorded the second quickest time of the first session picking up two qualifying bonus points. Neff is now 20 points out of first place. All things being equal if Neff out qualifies Beckman he will drop that number below twenty and he’ll close within one round of Beckman’s Valvoline/Aaron’s Dream Machine Dodge Charger.
“I am just trying to make the best run I can right now. The points are important if you get them for sure,” said the crew chief and driver.
In the second session Neff’s Castrol GTX Ford struck the tires. His first session time was quick enough to position him in the provisional No. 8 spot going into Saturday.
“Tomorrow we run a lot earlier and we won’t be running under the lights. There is a chance we could have a decent session tomorrow. We’ll have a chance to improve our position,” said the season-long points leader. “We aren’t sure right now (what happened on that run). I am going to get with my guys and look at the data. It definitely didn’t do what we wanted it to.”
Finally John Force will go into the second day of qualifying with the 13th quickest run of the day, a respectable 4.180 second run. With over twenty Funny Cars on the property Force and his Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang will have their hands full racing into the show.