HIGHT TO TOP AFTER FRIDAY IN SEATTLE SEATTLE, WA -- Robert Hight started the 2010 Western Swing exactly how he and his crew chief Jimmy Prock wanted to start with a solid run in the first session and then use max force for the afternoon session.
HIGHT TO TOP AFTER FRIDAY IN SEATTLE
SEATTLE, WA -- Robert Hight started the 2010 Western Swing exactly how he and his crew chief Jimmy Prock wanted to start with a solid run in the first session and then use max force for the afternoon session. Hight drove his Auto Club Ford Mustang to the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot at the 23rd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals with an eye-opening 4.194 second pass and he leads a quartet of Fords at the top of the Funny Car class.
"Week in and week out Jimmy is always swinging for the fence. He goes out there and looks at the track and wants to run the best he can run and that is the way he sets the car up. He doesn't try to back it off. It is on kill all the time. We have won a lot of races that way and qualified No. 1 a lot because of that. It is a great feeling but it all really goes back to the first run and getting down the track on that first run. That sets the tone for the whole weekend. Had we messed up and been early in the session here tonight we would not have been able to flex for what we shot for. Now it is supposed to cool off so I don't know if that 4.19 is safe. Jimmy will look at that run and he is never satisfied. He will look at that run and think he could have run better here or done better there. That is what he will shoot for if the conditions are better tomorrow," said Hight.
If Hight can hold onto the No. 1 spot it will be his 38th career No. 1 and he would move into the Top Ten all-time for No. 1 qualifiers in the Funny Car class. The fact that this is only Hight's sixth season as a professional driver is not lost on the former crewman for John Force Racing.
"When you talk about guys like Cruz Pedregon and Tony Pedregon who have been doing this for so long and if this No. 1 holds to go around them on the all-time list that is unbelievable. It shows you the caliber of car John force has put me in with Jimmy Prock and the whole Auto Club team," said the 5-time No. 1 qualifier in 2010.
Only one Funny Car driver has won the Western Swing and he is the driver that Hight looks up to more than anyone in the pits: John Force. The West Coast races has always held a special spot for John Force Racing but for the Alturas, California native the three race route through Seattle, Sonoma and Denver are a fun three weeks.
"This is a really fun time for me when we come to the West Coast Swing. I am a West Coast guy. We have lots of fans here on the West Coast. You have different condition, different fans and different racing out here on the West Coast. It is good to see guys like Gary Densham and Grant Downing, and a full field. I just live this three week swing. I need to start it out right here and get a win and keep it rolling into Sonoma."
Right behind Hight in the provisional qualifying order is teammate Ashley Force Hood. She also had a strong day on the track running the quickest run of the first session and then in a great side by side race with Hight running 4.225 to wind up second. Fellow Ford drivers Bob Tasca III and Force are sitting No.3 and No. 4, respectively.
"How about the Fords? We are 1-2-3-4 and that is stout with Ashley and I at the top and with John fourth. That is what we shoot for because the last few weeks we have been running into each other like John and Ashley first round in Norwalk. That just kills us. We have to meet in the semi-finals or later," said Hight.
The conditions today were a little hotter than usual for Pacific Raceway. Hight did not think that the hot weather had too much of a negative effect and he credited new JFR teammate Track specialist Lanny Miglizzi with giving the JFR crew chiefs an edge.
"A big addition to our team is Lanny Miglizzi and all that he has brought to this team. He lives up there on that starting line on that race track. He knows what is going on all day long. He has been here two days prior to the event. He is out here at five in the morning when the sun comes up and he is here when the sun goes down. He has track temperatures and maps of the whole track. Our crew chiefs really rely on him and that info now," said Hight. "He told us the conditions would be hot but it was probably the best scrape job they have ever had here. NHRA was able to get out there and put nice fresh rubber on with their machine. We knew it was probably going to be better than last year. Right now my 4.19 is better than anyone ran last year here and it is hotter today than last year. My hat is off to the Seattle crew for getting this track ready for NHRA to come in here."
After Hight's strong run Auto Club crew chief Jimmy Prock talked to the crowd over the P.A. and he was equal parts impressed and surprised.
"That was a good run. We have a lot of data for runs like this. We are trying to sort out some new clutch stuff. It looks like they are working pretty good," said Prock. "I wasn't sure what it would run. It cooled off a little at the end. It probably ran a little better than I thought. Sometimes it runs better than you think and sometimes it runs worse."