This Week in Ford Racing July 26, 2005 NHRA FUNNY CAR Robert Hight, driver of the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Funny Car for John Force Racing, is a rookie but currently has two NHRA National event wins...
This Week in Ford Racing
July 26, 2005
NHRA FUNNY CAR
Robert Hight, driver of the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Funny Car for John Force Racing, is a rookie but currently has two NHRA National event wins (Houston and Denver), five number one qualifying positions and currently leads the NHRA Funny Car Points Standings. Hight talked about his season to date and how his team plans to stay number one.
Robert Hight - No. 7000 Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Funny Car
When You started this season at Pomona did you ever imagine leading the Funny Car Points at this point in the season? "No, not even close. At the beginning of the season all I did was look at the Funny Car class and said with my first year here if we can just qualify for every race and finish in the top-10, that might be good - only because I knew that the car would be good, but I had a lot to learn and I still do. I never dreamed of being in the points lead, that's for darn sure."
Talk about last weekends race with your teammate Eric MEDLEN in the final. "Actually, I've been in four finals this year and the two that I have lost were against my teammates. John (Force), in Atlanta, and Eric last weekend at Seattle. The two finals against my teammates were the least pressure. It was fun just because we knew we were going to have a Ford Mustang in the winner's circle. We were getting win and runner-up money. Obviously, you want to win, but we just make it fun when we race against each other. May the best car win. We look back and obviously the points are important, but at the same time, Eric really moved up in the points. Eric's confidence is up now. They have been struggling a little bit. It was a big boost. And that's what we need. We need all three of these Ford Mustangs running good so we can fight the Dodges and Chevys. It's not easy. Its tough."
How do the three teams share information at the track? "We have an engineering trailer that acts as a machine shop with mills and lathes. It also carries blocks and spare bodies. The technology trailer is where all the crew chiefs get together and work as one. That's what separates our team from the rest. All our crew chiefs work together to help each other. The common goal is for one of the Fords to win. If one car is struggling the other two jump in and try to help. That's kind of what turned Eric's team around. Jimmy Prock has helped them a lot, and they are kind of running the combination we are running. The multi-car teams really helps out."
Your Crew Chief, Jimmy Prock, has been known to try some far-out combinations. How do you guys work now that you have the points lead? "Jimmy's not really trying things different. What he is trying to do is refine what we have and work on things we will be running in the next six months, working on clutch discs and everything we have available. He's trying to be more consistent and steady. We're not working on new combinations right now. All we are trying to do is fine tune what we have, and the car has been responding great. The little changes that he made on Sunday last week, it really responded. That just shows what a good team I have. They put the car together the same every time and it allows Jimmy to do the minute changes that make the car run better."
Having Worked on the Car as a Crewman, How do you think that helps you as a driver? "That's the main reason I have been able to accelerate this learning curve. In other respects it can mess you up. You'll be thinking about something on the car that you hear or feel before a run and you focus on that. You think, 'Is this going to break? Is that going to break?' when you really need to be focused on driving the car. Leave the tune-up and everything else to the crew guys. It can do both things, but knowing how things work makes it easier to learn."
What's the team's testing schedule like? "We test every chance we get. We sometimes test on Mondays after an event. We also test at match races. After the St. Louis race, we tested on a good track in Norwalk, Ohio. We set the track record there twice with a combination that we are running now. We are trying to run the car as much as we can."
With THERE being three Races UNTIL Indy, do you still have a chance TO qualifyfor the Skoal Showdown? "Yes we do. What it's going to come down to is if we qualified number one at the next three races, I know that's tough to do with the good Funny Cars that are out there. If we did that, Whit Bazemore would have to have a number seven average and we could go around them. Now if we qualify number two, he needs to have a number eight average. Before the last race we actually thought our chances were very slim but we qualified at number three and Bazemore qualified fifteenth, so we actually did last race what we needed to do in two races. So there is still a chance. It's pretty exciting since I did not drive last year and we missed the chance to collect points at six races and I think I'm in tenth right now. I'm 20 points behind Ron Capps in the ninth position. If we out qualify him by two spots in Sonoma, we'll go by Ron. So then it's just see how Whit does. The main thing is just try to keep this points lead. It wouldn't bother me if John (Force) got closer but we need to distance ourselves from Scelzi, Capps and some of those other cars."
What do you feel is the advantage of running the edgy Ford Mustang body compared to the more rounded Dodge Stratus and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo? "With the help of Ford we have developed a great Mustang body. The problem is what the rules will allow. NHRA is getting a little stricter on all that. Right now, I think we have as good, if not a little better body, than everybody else. What's really exciting and what we are looking forward to, is the 2005 Mustang body that's still under development. We are hoping that we've made some strides to get it better than the competition. We have to thank Ford for helping us with the wind-tunnel testing. Hopefully, that will pay off and put us a step ahead."