There are some tracks where drivers love to pull their race cars to the starting line because they have seen more win lights than anything else. Brainerd International Raceway is not one of those tracks for Full Throttle points leader Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team. This will be Hight’s eighth trip to the Brainerd, Minnesota track and his best finish has been a semi-final loss to John Force. He has four first round losses and a DNQ to go along with two second round losses.
“For whatever reason Brainerd has not been that good to me. Bristol used to be another track where we just didn’t go rounds. Last year we finally conquered Bristol and this year I want to get a win in Brainerd and hold onto the No. 1 spot in the points heading into Indy,” said Hight, a four-time winner in 2012.
Hight’s championship season of 2009 actually started turning around at Brainerd International Raceway in the most unlikeliest of ways. Hight, in dire need of round wins to get into the Countdown, shockingly did not qualify for the event and team owner John Force shook up the team moving himself to the Auto Club team for a race and Hight over to the Castrol GTX team. The move worked as Hight clinched the final spot in the Countdown that year and went on to win his first championship.
“That DNQ in 2009 hurt but even then we never got our heads down. John always has a plan and a back-up plan. We got fixed by Indy and then had a good race there losing to Ashley (Force Hood) in the final. Once we got into the Countdown (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) had a great tune-up and the rest is history,” said Hight.
“Even though I haven’t raced well in Brainerd I love coming up here. The fans are always great. They love their drag racing and it is a unique event because you see everything from my 8000 horsepower Auto Club Ford Mustang going down the track to snowmobiles,” added Hight.
Hight has won four races this season and he has held the points lead most of the season but a late season charge by veteran Ron Capps has Hight sitting on a 31 point lead with two races to go before the Countdown begins. Hight, Capps and Jack Beckman have all clinched their Countdown berths. This weekend the trio of drivers should be joined by Hight’s teammate Mike Neff and veteran Johnny Gray. Rookie of the Year front-runner Courtney Force could clinch her first Countdown with some success on Sunday.
“The Countdown is where you win championships but it is the races leading up to the Countdown where you can get some momentum. We were really hot in the early part of the season,” said Hight. “We were going for five race wins in a row and Capps beat us in Houston. His car has come around but I know Jimmy Prock has a great tune-up for my Auto Club Mustang. I want to dominate and lead the points the whole season. I am sure Capps will be charging but so will a lot of other guys and women. Courtney has had a really good race car these past couple of races so there are no easy round wins.”