HIGHT READY TO CHASE DOWN SECOND CHAMPIONSHIP
POMONA, CA (February 21, 2011) --- For 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight the end of 2010 is a six race stretch he would like to forget. An 0-5 round record has been pushed out of the world class trapshooter's mind like a missed clay target. The start of the 2011 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series has the 41year-old former crewman focused on regaining his championship crown. Hight will start his quest this weekend at the 51st annual Kragen- O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
"The way we ended last season was tough. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and I talked a lot over the winter and we had a great test session in Florida. We are both ready and I am really excited that my whole team is back in 2011," said the 18-time NHRA national event winner. "You never know if you can win a race until you get that first Wally. It is the same thing with a Full Throttle championship. I always knew I wanted to be a Funny Car world champion but you never know if it is going to happen. We won in 2009 and now I have that same drive to get another one. The only difference now is I know in my heart I can do it."
In 2009 Hight struggled during the regular season but won three of the final six races in the Countdown to streak from 10th to 1st place for the championship. Last season Hight had a career regular season, winning four times before the Countdown, a personal season high for wins, including three wins in a row before faltering in the Countdown going winless in five races and DQing in Las Vegas.
"I will always stay positive and the way we ended last season was not how we planned it. Seeing John Force win his 15th championship was great but I joked with him in December that now I am fourteen championships behind him again," said Hight.
"Jimmy and I are going to keep racing this Auto Club Ford Mustang hard every race. We came out of the gate strong in testing and I don't plan on letting up. It was great to get some competitive runs in during the PRO Winter Warm-up event. I think those two days of racing side by side with guys like Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, Bob Tasca III and Force really helped me get focused."
During testing Jimmy Prock and (assistant crew chief) Eric Lane had the Auto Club Mustang dialed in on the first day making the first 4.0 run a blistering 4.063 second pass. Hight consistently dipped into the ohs everyday including a great 4.075 second pass when track temperatures exceeded 100 degrees.
The last two NHRA Winternationals Hight has led the field in qualifying and for his career he has 38 No. 1 qualifying efforts. In just six seasons he is tied for third place all-time with two-time Full Throttle champion Cruz Pedregon. Hight trails only two legends Don "Snake" Prudhomme (50) and teammate John Force (134).
"I would like to catch Snake but getting more No. 1s than John will be tough. I have been lucky to have a great Mustang tuned by one of the best ever, Jimmy Prock. I know every time I roll up to the starting line my Auto Club Mustang can make a great run. That is a tribute to Jimmy, Eric and my guys. Our goal at the Winternationals is to start the season off on the right foot and the best way to do that is to qualify strong and see what happens on Sunday."
The off-season was quiet for Hight but ended with a flurry of activity as he was named president of John Force Racing in a January press conference at the Yorba Linda, California shop. Hight will continue to race full-time and the move was one necessitated by Force's continued plan to develop the next generation of leaders inside his organization. For Hight who started out working on the clutch of Force's Castrol GTX Mustang in 1995 it was another major recognition of his well earned respect in the company.
"No one will ever replace John Force, not on the track or at John Force Racing. He is still the man and will always be the man. John just wanted to make sure everything was in place to keep our success moving forward. He and Laurie started this company together and now my wife Adria, JFR CFO, along with Ashley (Force Hood) and her husband Dan will keep growing our business," said Hight.
With Force Hood's brief hiatus from driving grabbing a lot of attention Hight is excited by the prospect of the upcoming season and getting on the track. John Force Racing has 196 Funny Car wins and Hight along with Force and Mike Neff are all ready to push that number beyond 200.
"Ford Racing just won their 600th NASCAR race at the Daytona 500 last weekend. We are right around the corner from our 200th Funny Car win at John Force Racing. I don't know which one of the three of us will get 200 but I hope is happens pretty quickly. I think all three of our Ford Mustangs will be tough to beat."