Two weeks ago in Bristol, Tennessee Robert Hight suffered his second first round defeat of the season losing to Johnny Gray in the opening session of the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. The last time Hight was ousted after just one run on Sunday was the season opening NHRA O’Reilly Winternationals in Pomona. Hight is hoping his Auto Club Ford Mustang will react similarly to getting extra time off on race day.
Following Pomona Hight and his Auto Club Funny Car team went on a tear through the competition winning the next four races in a row and reaching the semi-finals at the fifth race. Hight won from coast to coast reaching the winner’s circle in Phoenix; Gainesville, Florida; Las Vegas; and Charlotte. The run propelled him to the points lead and has the former crewman turned driver ready to get back to the winner’s circle.
“The start of the season was unbelievable. I won four races in a row which only a handful of Funny Car drivers have ever done. In addition my teammates John Force and Mike Neff also won so in the first six races John Force Racing had six wins. Since then we have reached some finals but haven’t been able to get over the hump. I don’t think anything is wrong at JFR but I am ready to start winning races again, said Hight.
Heading into Chicago for the 15th annual O’Reilly Rt 66 NHRA Nationals Hight has is goal set on winning for the first time in the Windy City. He reached the finals here twice losing to teammate John Force in 2006 and then dropping a heart breaker to Matt Hagan in 2010. John Force Racing has six wins in Chicago including last year’s race which Mike Neff won in dominating fashion. This race starts a tough five races in six weeks stretch that Hight would like to get underway with a win.
“Now it is going to get fun. We race five weekends out of six including the Western Swing. I love to be at the races and going rounds. I think you could look at this like a mini-Countdown. You want to win as many races as possible here to get ready for the real Countdown. The goal is to be at the top of the points but another goal is to be ready with a solid tune-up and some momentum,” said Hight.
For Hight this season has continued a streak of success for the driver and president of John Force Racing that started in 2005 his rookie season. Each season Hight has competed at the highest level he has won multiple races and has led the points at least once. This year with four victories he is one shy away from his personal best five wins in a season which he accomplished last year. Ironically it was his championship season of 2009 where Hight had one of his lower win counts winning just three times. All the wins came in the Countdown a pattern repeated by Matt Hagan last season.
“You want to win every race no doubt about it. I talk with Jimmy Prock all the time about dominating all season long. We got on a streak early this season and there are other drivers who are hot right now. We all know you need to also get hot in the Countdown. These races starting Chicago will be big for everyone to get momentum or keep momentum. I love the position we are in now as the points leader. I want to get my first Chicago win and then head to the next race in Norwalk and win there. Neff won both these race last year so it can be done,” said Hight.
One other piece of business Hight would like to take care of is joining the Funny Car 250 round win club. There are only a handful of current drivers who can say they won 250 rounds of Funny Car racing. They are multiple-time world champions, veterans and Hall of Fame contenders. With two round wins at the O’Reilly Rt 66 NHRA Nationals Robert Hight can join a group of current drivers with a minimum of 250 round wins that includes John Force (1,103), Tony Pedregon (503), Cruz Pedregon (451), Ron Capps (448) and Tim Wilkerson (261). Hight could achieve this feat in only 172 races (including Chicago) which is a pace of nearly 1.5 round wins per race. The only driver who has a better round win to race ratio is Force (1.85).