Reading: Robert Hight preview

HIGHT WANTS TO FINISH REGULAR SEASON STRONG READING, PA (August 13, 2008) --- A week ago Robert Hight and his John Force Racing teammates were riding a wave of Mustang momentum. Hight was coming off his second win of the season in Sonoma and he...

HIGHT WANTS TO FINISH REGULAR SEASON STRONG

READING, PA (August 13, 2008) --- A week ago Robert Hight and his John Force Racing teammates were riding a wave of Mustang momentum. Hight was coming off his second win of the season in Sonoma and he was qualified No. 3 for the 28th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals behind teammates Ashley and John Force, Nos. 1 and 2, respectively. Rookie of the Year front-runner and teammate Mike Neff was just behind him in the No. 5 qualifying spot heading into Sunday's eliminations at Brainerd International Raceway.

Enthusiasm was palpable in the Force pits on Sunday morning. Around Hight's Auto Club of Southern California trailer his team knew if they could run as well as they ran on Saturday they could see themselves in their second winners circle in a row.

All that enthusiasm melted like an ice cream cone on a hot day as in successive pairings Ashley Force, Mike Neff, and Hight all lost first round match-ups they were favored to win. Hight's loss was the most painful since his fuel coupe was the only JFR Mustang to lose traction and he dropped a winnable round as his running mate Melanie Troxel smoked the tires moments after Hight lost traction himself.

Hight chalked up the loss with both disappoint and frustration as a critical missed opportunity for his team.

"Nobody made any mistakes today it was just a bad call on what the track would take. We can't do that," said a disheartened Hight hours after his loss.

That first round loss and the eventual win by rival Tony Pedregon dropped Hight from the No. 2 position in the POWERade point standings to the third slot. The lone bright spot for Hight was simply by making his first qualifying pass and picking up the minimum ten POWERade points he clinched a spot in the Countdown to One. His focus going into to race was on not just clinching a spot but making a run at unseating points leader Tim Wilkerson. That dream went up in smoke the second his Mustang lost traction in the first round.

"My mindset has changed I was second now I'm third (in the POWERade point standings). Our mindset now is to get as high as we can. We can't catch Wilkerson but we want to get as high as we can. More than anything the only way you are going to do that is to have a good running car," said the quickest and fastest 1000 foot Funny Car racer. "We have a pretty good race car right now. No bad races from here on out."

With two races to go before the Countdown to One Hight and his team have a look of determination that should have the rest of the Funny Car class looking over their shoulders.

"I'm looking forward to these last two races. I'm looking forward to Reading to really qualifying well to hold onto the number one spot in the US Smokeless Showdown. If I get bumped it will be by my teammate Ashley Force. She has had two number ones in a row. She is doing well and she deserves it. I want to stay number one if I can," said the 2005 Rookie of the Year. "I want to have some momentum going into Indy. I want to have a good race in Reading and just be up for Indy. Having some momentum going in by winning Reading and leaving Indy with a win would be huge starting the Countdown."

Robert has started from the No. 1 spot 26 times in his career with three of those starts coming in 2008 but he has never started from the No. 1 position at Reading. His best Reading finish to date was a runner-up finish to Phil Burkart Jr. in 2006.

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , John Force , Tim Wilkerson , Ashley Force , Phil Burkart , Melanie Troxel , Robert Hight , Mike Neff