Sonoma: Robert Hight preview

SONOMA SUCCESS ON HORIZON FOR HIGHT SONOMA, CA (July 22, 2009) --- Last year Hight scored an emotional win for John Force Racing and his Auto Club Ford Mustang team. For the third year in a row a member of John Force Racing has captured the...


SONOMA, CA (July 22, 2009) --- Last year Hight scored an emotional win for John Force Racing and his Auto Club Ford Mustang team. For the third year in a row a member of John Force Racing has captured the event win. Beginning in 2006 with the late Eric Medlen then in 2007 John Force scored his own emotional victory at Infineon Raceway a driver for John Force Racing has hoisted the "Wally" inside the ropes at Infineon Raceway's winner's circle. This year Hight wants to focus on the emotions of honoring his lost teammate and getting ready for a hard fight over the last four NHRA national events before the Countdown to One.

"We have always done well in Sonoma. We won it last year and we'll try and keep the streak alive with another win. This would be four in a row for John Force Racing. The first in the streak was Eric, then John, then me last year. For my Auto Club Mustang right now it is getting to be do or die. We didn't get hurt too bad (in Seattle) but sure could have done some damage," said Hight.

"It goes right back to qualifying. Basically I had third low ET of the first round in Seattle. It would have beaten just about anybody else in that first round except (Ron) Capps and (Tim) Wilkerson. Tim happened to be in the other lane against me."

"My Auto Club Mustang was hurt in that first round race. It was hurt early, early. We were pretty disgusted when the round was over when you consider if the engine would have run right. It burned up the No. 6 cylinder early in the run. Sometimes I say we are better of being on the slow side now (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) is going the other way. He thinks there is a lot more left in this thing. (In Sonoma) we are going to be more aggressive."

The race in Sonoma at Infineon Raceway is a chance for Hight to return to the area of northern California where the veteran crewman and driver grew up.

"I remember when I was a kid (Infineon Raceway) was Sears Point back then but I would really look forward to the race. I am sure there are people right now that are planning their weekend off or something around this FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals. I remember being on the fence and ropes watching guys like Kenny Bernstein, The Snake and John Force," said Hight.

"I'm excited. I am not going home to Yorba Linda I am going to drive down to Sonoma with my daughter Autumn in one of the Ford Flexes. She's going to get to watch DVDs and I am going to make it fun for her. She has been out here (in Seattle) with me. I want to let her be a kid and do some fun things."

"Thursday (of race week) we are going to get after it. We are going to work hard to get her ready to win (the FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals)."

Hight knows that the opportunity to jump into the Top Ten is his for the taking. His fellow NHRA competitors also have a chance but in Hight's opinion no one has seized the momentum during the first two races of the NHRA Western Swing.

"It is almost like (Matt) Hagan (in 10th place) and (Cruz) Pedregon (in 11th place) and myself none of us want that number ten spot. I can tell you I want it and I want more than that. Sonoma is where we better get after it and make a move. Otherwise it could be too late," summed up Hight.

As the Western Swing has progressed the 2005 NHRA Rookie of the Year's optimism has increased with each pass. Hight never lost confidence with crew chief Jimmy Prock or his team but they struggled to start the season trying to make a tricky new clutch set-up work. Finally, the team decided to reverse course prior to the Chicago national event and since that time Hight has seen steady improvement in his Auto Club Mustangs performance.

"The biggest plus is this Mustang is tuneable for (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) now. We have been running better in qualifying on Friday which lets us run later in the session on Saturday. It has been tough to have to race your teammates but we need to start racing some of these other guys to make up some points. I like to be able to look at the track and clear my head before we run and lately I have been able to do that. That is a big plus for us," said Hight.

"I am looking forward to being able to walk the track at Sonoma and know that we can make some progress with the Full Throttle Top Ten. I want to get this Auto Club Ford Mustang in the winner's circle and I think we just as good a chance as anybody this weekend at Infineon Raceway."

-credit: jfr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , John Force , Eric Medlen , Robert Hight