HIGHT NOT AT ALL SUPERSTITIOUS ABOUT QUALIFYING NUMBER ONE Auto Club Driver Aims to Break Season-Long Drought SONOMA, Calif. -- Despite the fact that no Funny Car driver has won from the No. 1 qualifying position in the last 20 races in...
HIGHT NOT AT ALL SUPERSTITIOUS ABOUT QUALIFYING NUMBER ONE
Auto Club Driver Aims to Break Season-Long Drought
SONOMA, Calif. -- Despite the fact that no Funny Car driver has won from the No. 1 qualifying position in the last 20 races in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Robert Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock aren't likely to abandon their go-for- the-jugular mentality in this week's 19th FRAM/Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway.
In fact, instead of being intimidated by the streak, Hight is motivated by it.
"I'm not superstitious at all," said the 2005 winner of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Road to the Future Award (NHRA Rookie of the Year). "I don't believe there's a No. 1 curse. I'd really like to be the one to end the streak."
The number one qualifier more often than any other Funny Car driver over the last two seasons (11 times in 37 races), Hight will be a threat to enhance his performance reputation and that of the Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford when qualifying begins on Friday.
"The reason it's so hard to win from No. 1 is because the Funny Car class has become so competitive that you have to make four perfect runs to win a national event," he said, "and no one's been able to do that lately. We had a car that could've won last week (from a No. 1 start at Seattle, Wash.), but we just made a mistake in the second round and got beat.
"I'd still rather be No. 1 than No. 9 or 10 or 11," he said. "You know, not many people have won from No. 16 (qualifying position) but nobody's saying there's a curse on it. The only curse is not making the (16-car) show."
A former crewman on father-in-law John Force's Castrol GTX Mustang, Hight hasn't won the last six times he's been the No. 1 qualifier in the Auto Club Ford.
Nevertheless, he and current teammate Eric Medlen both were wire-to-wire winners on two different occasions in 2005, so they know it can be done.
Hight, who began the season by winning the CARQUEST Winternationals at Pomona, Calif. (from the No. 12 starting position), rolls into Infineon Raceway in third place in points behind Force and pacesetting Ron Capps. He is the only driver other than Capps to have led the points this season.
A former trapshooting champion, Hight has taken aim at the Funny Car crown presently worn by veteran Gary Scelzi.
However, if he is to emerge as a serious contender, he'll need to start reeling in the two front runners. He presently is 162 points behind Force and 250 back of Capps.
"We need to start making up some ground," he said. "Realistically, you probably need to be within 150 points at Indy (site of the Labor Day Mac Tools U.S. Nationals) to have a shot."
A three-time tour winner, Hight didn't have a good initial outing at Infineon in 2005. He qualified well (No. 3) but was beaten by Phil Burkart Jr. in round one. He's anticipating a better result this time out.
"Jimmy Prock is amazing," Hight said. "Whether it's hot or whether it's cool, I know I'll have a car that can run low ET (quick time). Consistency, that's all we need to put ourselves in the hunt."