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Apr 07, 2013 - 07:49 AM
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2013 NHRA: Hight Stays On Top At Las Vegas
Posted by: newsla on Apr 07, 2013 - 07:46 AM
NHRA
2013 NHRA: Hight Stays On Top At Las Vegas


Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang proved that last night was not a fluke holding onto the No. 1 qualifying spot at the 14th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. On Friday night Hight posted the quickest time of the weekend, 4.053 seconds, and today he backed up his solid performance making the quickest lap of the final qualifying session a 4.093 second run. For the weekend Hight picked up six valuable qualifying bonus points for his efforts.

 

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There was a lengthy delay of over fifty minutes after the first pair of Funny Cars in the final session. As the sun set on the Las Vegas desert Hight thought the chances of his time holding up were disappearing with the sun on the horizon.

“The longer the delays took I was thinking it was going to be tough. Cruz Pedregon was coming up and he just loves these kinds of conditions. He could have run right there with us when it was cooling off. He honestly has a really good car and it showed today. It looked like he was pushing a little yesterday. He calmed it down and made two great runs. He is another tough car,” said Hight.

Hight was quick to give his team credit and also talk about how his recent improvement had improved his team’s attitude.

“What is cool to me is seeing what an ET slip will do for your team. It helps the morale of the team so much. My team has been pretty beat up and they have been working really hard testing. They have been putting in a lot of hours. You start getting a couple positive ET slips and everything gets better. It is magic,” said Hight, the back-to-back No. 1 qualifier at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.

It has been nineteen races since Hight was No. 1 going back to the Southern Nationals in Atlanta last season. This is the eighth No.1 for Hight at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and his fourth at this SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. He has never been lower than No. 6 qualifier at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Of his 27 wins seven have come from No. 1 spot. He has been the No. 1 qualifier at least once every year of his career, nine straight years and this was his 44th career No. 1 which is fourth best all-time for Funny Car behind John Force (140), Cruz Pedregon (51), and Don Prudhomme (50).

“We really thought this Auto Club Ford was on the turnaround at Gainesville but we had to wait two weeks to figure it out and come here and prove it. That is just a long two weeks. It has been a long nineteen races since I have been up here talking to you guys. It has almost been that long since I won a race,” said Hight in the media center.

“I told Gary Gerald from ESPN I have qualified No. 1 here and lost first round and I have qualified No. 1 and won this race. Qualifying is over and tomorrow is a new day. I am pretty proud of my car and the way the team worked,” said Hight, a former clutch specialist on John Force’s Castrol GTX Mustang. “That 4.09 in the last session was pretty stout. I believe we have a car we can race with. What is really cool is we have three Ford Mustangs in our camp right now that can win. It always seems like one car will be struggling or maybe only one is doing good. Right now I have a really good feeling about the way we are running. I think we have three cars that can contend. What would be better than seeing two JFR Mustangs in the final tomorrow?”

The defending SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals champion will race Jeff Arend in the opening round. Hight holds a 12-2 career record over the veteran driver but in 2012 Hight lost his only race to the driver of the Jim Dunn owned Grime Boss Funny Car. The only time the pair met at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was at the 2009 SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals where Hight beat Arend in the first round.

Sophomore sensation Courtney Force kept a snug hold on one of the top positions today after the Funny Car field completed two more rounds of qualifying in the hot Las Vegas conditions.

The youngest daughter of John Force landed the No. 2 spot on Friday evening with an impressive 4.06 elapsed time, and when all was said and done, no one beside Robert Hight could touch that number.

“We had a great pass to get us in the top half on Friday night. It was a great session to put on in the No. 2 spot. My teammate Robert Hight went to the No. 1 spot so I’m excited going into the race tomorrow. I kind of struggled a little bit getting the car to the other end earlier today, but I was determined to get it down there on the last pass. It ran a pretty good run for the session and for the conditions, running a 4.11. We were trying to attack it on that run and get up to the top spot, but just didn’t quite get it there,” said Force.

Force will take on the No. 15 qualifier and fellow Ford racer, Tim Wilkerson, in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Force is 3-0 to Wilkerson in previous events.

“We’re excited. We’ve got this Traxxas Ford Mustang qualified for another race. John Force Racing has two strong teams in the top two spots going into race day and my dad is right behind us. I feel confident going into race day and we’ll see what happens first round tomorrow versus Wilkerson,” said Force.

Hight and Courtney Force are joined in the Funny Car field by a resurgent John Force and his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. The winningest driver in NHRA history is qualified No. 9 and will race Alexis DeJoria in the first round.

“It’s always exciting to race Alexis because her dad will be out there on the starting line just like I am with Courtney and Brittany. He wants her to win. Of course I want to win, but she has a great race car right now. Someone will get it and get through to the next round so we’ll just have to wait and see. Lots of factors play into race day,” said Force.
“We got all four cars qualified. Courtney is No. 2 and Robert is on the pole. It was big to get that Auto Club car turned around. It’s too early to tell, but we’ll see what we can do with it tomorrow. I’m in the ball game, but I love racing DeJoria. If she whoops me there will be a good side because her dad will feel good and I know that feeling. If she beats me then my girls will probably be mad at me because they all like her.”

For the fourth consecutive race Brittany Force qualified her Castrol EDGE Top Fuel dragster. The Top Fuel field continues to be one of the toughest in recent memory and the rookie of the year candidate. The 26 year-old racer from Yorba Linda, California made the field as the No. 11 qualifier, her best position of the season. She will have veteran Doug Kalitta in the first round tomorrow.

“We’re in for the show tomorrow, and that’s the main thing. We ended up No. 11. My last pass was a 3.88 ET. We were happy because out of the four qualifying runs we made three good, strong, consistent passes down the track. We get to run Doug Kalitta tomorrow and I’ve never raced him before so I’m excited about it. Our plan is to have this Castrol EDGE Top Fuel car in top condition and ready to face the competition on race day,” said Brittany Force.

Force was out in front of Kalitta’s teammate David Grubnic in the opening round of the Arizona Nationals when a safety timing system prematurely deployed her parachute during a pedal-fest with the racer from Australia.



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