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Mar 31, 2014 - 10:06 AM
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2014 NHRA: Auto Club's Hight Runner-Up At Las Vegas; Takes Pts Lead
Posted by: newsla on Mar 31, 2014 - 10:03 AM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: Auto Club's Hight Runner-Up At Las Vegas; Takes Pts Lead


Robert Hight was racing in his third consecutive final and his second final of the season versus Alexis DeJoria today at the 15th annual Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals. The Auto Club Ford Mustang was consistent all day running 4.082, 4.086, 4.073 and then 4.083 in the final but DeJoria’s amazing 4.026 second pass in the other lane gave her the win. Hight will leave with the Mello Yello points lead and the momentum of three finals in a row as the Auto Club team heads east for the 5th annual Four-Wide NHRA Nationals in Charlotte, NC.

 

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“We had a great car all day. It was so consistent running 4.08s and a 4.07. That was a great run in the other lane. No one is hanging their head over in the Auto Club pits. We have been to three finals in a row and we have the points lead. Mike Neff has a great handle on this car and it was flawless today,” said Hight, a three-time Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals winner. “We have three wins at this race and we will be looking to get in the winner’s circle here in the fall. This season is a marathon not a sprint. I have to thank all our sponsors from Auto Club to Castrol, Ford, Mac Tools, PEAK and BrandSource. I was hoping we could have given away a TV again but sometimes the breaks just don’t go your way,” said Robert Hight.

Hight moved into the points lead when he defeated Ron Capps in the semi-finals. The last time Hight was in the points lead was Seattle of 2012. He has held the points lead at least once every year of his career with the exception of last season where his highest point position was No. 3 when he exited Charlotte with a win in the Countdown.

In the first round Hight took out veteran driver Jeff Arend. In the second round the Auto Club Ford Mustang pulled up beside Paul Lee and advanced on the strength of a 4.086 second run. In the semi-finals it was a classic John Force Racing versus Don Schumacher race as Hight and Ron Capps battled for a spot in the final round. Hight took out Capps with another strong 4.073 second run to get lane choice over DeJoria in the final.

Courtney Force claimed her fourth career No. 1 qualifier this weekend when she ran a 4.006 ET, but lost in the second round of eliminations

“We’ve had consistent, solid passes coming out here to Vegas. We made it down the track every run this weekend,” said Force.

The third-year driver went up against Jon Capps in the opening round. This was the second time she has faced him after getting the win over him at Indy in 2012. Force ran a 4.106 at 308.43 while Capps fouled out with a -.143 red light.

“First round we had a great car. We changed tires a couple times and got it right. The conditions are so different each time we’ve been on the track. The wind is a lot more severe down track with that cross wind down there that catches you pretty good so that made for an exciting ride, but this Traxxas Ford Mustang blazed through the first round and into the second,” said Force.

In the second round, Force lined up beside Cruz Pedregon. This was the eighth time the pair has competed in eliminations. Force was outrun by her competitor, putting them 4-4 against one another.

“We’ve done pretty good at this track in the past, we just couldn’t get past Cruz in the second round today, but I’m proud of my team for giving us such a good car this weekend, being that we were in the No. 1 spot with top speed of Nitro qualifying. We’re leaving here with the track record in both ET and speed,” said Force.

Last year at both NHRA Las Vegas races, Force qualified in the No. 2 spot and went to the final round on race day.

“I think we’ve got a long season to go and this definitely proves we have a car capable of running some really good numbers. We’re excited and looking forward to Charlotte. We should have cool conditions there and I’m excited to see if we can put another 325 mph run on the board and back it up for the national record that we missed here. I hope we can inch a little closer to making a three-second run for the first time and joining my dad and Robert in the three-second club,” said Force.

Force moved up to No. 6 in the Mello Yello Funny Car point standings after her quarterfinals finish today.

“All in all, it wasn’t a bad weekend for the Traxxas Ford Mustang team. We moved up in points and we’re just going to keep pushing forward,” said Force.

John Force suffered an uncharacteristic first round loss to Paul Lee. Force’s Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang was bitten by a mechanical failure at the hit of the throttle that caused the 8000-horspower engine to drop a cylinder and lose power. Despite running a 4.137 on seven cylinders to Paul Lee’s 4.132, John still came up short on this match-up.

“I didn’t do that good of a job today and neither did the car. These things happen but we’re no worse as we’re still doing okay in points heading to the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in two weeks. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and the rest of guys did a great job this weekend but these mechanical hiccups can happen. I also need to a better job on my reaction times,” said John Force.

The culprit that contributed to John’s opening round loss was a faulty slide valve that controls the flow of nitro to the BOSS 500 engine. Because it malfunctioned, too much fuel was fed to the engine that knocked out one of the cylinders thus having an adverse effect and taking away almost 1000 horsepower from the BOSS 500 engine.

“The seals on the slide valve went out during the run and screwed up the electronics so it wasn’t in the right position and made the engine fuel mixture too rich. I was a pretty good run on seven cylinders but we still didn’t win. We’ll try again in two weeks,” said crew chief Jimmy Prock

John Force will leave Las Vegas with a total of 358 points and in second place.

Lady Luck wasn’t on the side of Brittany Force today as she also suffered a first round defeat during the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Her Castrol EDGE Dragster experienced severe tire shake when she hit the throttle on the 10,000 horsepower engine and she could only watch her opponent, Bob Vandergriff, drive away and get the win.

“I was really disappointed in that run but I’m still proud of my guys, proud of this Castrol EDGE team. Everyone tried their best this weekend but it wasn’t meant for us in the first round. We went out there and at around 100 feet, it shook so hard and I tried to drive through it but it was too hard of a shake. I got out of the throttle and I was going to jump back into it but Vandergriff was out in front of me so there was no chance of catching him and I didn’t want to do more damage to the car of the engine,” said Brittany Force.

Today’s early defeat won’t dampen the spirits if this 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year. She’s had the best teacher and mentor – the 16-time NHRA Funny champ that happens to be her father - John Force, to show her the sport of drag racing has extreme highs and lows. Brittany is currently eighth in standings with 191 points.

“I’m bummed out but we’re going to turn it around. We have Charlotte coming up in two weeks and I’m confident we’ll go some rounds,” said Brittany Force

Crew chief Todd Smith feels the same way despite feeling the pressure of trying to tame a 10,000-horspower dragster so it’s repeatable and consistent on any track surface.

“The car had excessive clutch wear and so in an attempt to make an adjustment to that, I made a change our set up this morning. All indications showed it was the right thing to do but unfortunately the car didn’t respond. Clutch wear is a very critical thing for these cars and if it’s not exactly right, the car will shake the tires and that’s exactly what happened today,” said crew chief Todd Smith.



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