Monday, September 28, 2009
No one hotter than Hight in NHRA funny cars
National Hot Rod Assn. funny car driver Robert Hight was the last one invited to the drag racing playoff party, but he has been the beau of the ball since it started two weeks ago.
Hight won for the second week in a row and vaulted into the lead in the NHRA funny standings. After going winless through the regular season, Hight has won the first two races of the Countdown to One, the six-race playoff to determine champions in the four national drag racing divisions.
Hight won at zMax Dragway in North Carolina, the first race of the Countdown, and followed that up with a victory at Texas Motorplex on Sunday. It was also his third straight finals appearance. He lost to teammate Ashley Force Hood at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend.
“This is probably the best race car I have ever had,” said Hight, a driver for John Force Racing. “We have won races and been close to winning the championship but to be this dominant and this consistent and steady. It is going down the track every single run. The only person to beat me was my teammate Ashley Force Hood in the final at Indy. We had a malfunction. It kind of blew up. It is not hurting itself. It is running fast we had top speed here. Jimmy Prock definitely has a handle on this Mustang. We still have to give it to Guido and Ron Douglas. Without them we would not be where we are now. They helped us and I thank God Jimmy listened to them and worked with them. That is what is great about our team we all listen and work together.”
Hight defeated Jack Beckman in the finals at Texas Motorplex. Hight beat Tim Wilkerson and Force Hood en route to the championship. But his win over Sweden’s Leif Helander in the first round had the biggest impact on Hight through the races at Texas.
“Something kind of hit me this morning actually last night,” Hight said Sunday after winning at Texas Motorplex. “My first round match up was with Leif Helander from Sweden. He came by after I came by the press room and he introduced himself. He told me his story. He reminded me of that movie, ‘The World’s Fastest Indian.’ We have had controversy here lately. We have had drivers arguing. Talking with a guy like that puts it in perspective what we are doing out here.”
Hight has a 13-point lead over Force Hood in the funny car standings. Beckman is in third place, 45 points behind Hight. Tony Pedregon, who held the lead in the funny car standings when the Countdown started, is in fourth place, 59 points out of first.
"I have to tell you, losing in the final round stinks," said Beckman, a driver from North Hills and a driver for Don Schumacher Racing, “but we recognize what we did here and everybody on this Valvoline/MTS Dodge crew has that look in their eye right now. We did what nobody could do all day, we got down that right lane. And our goal on that one -- what Johnny (West, crew chief) wanted to do -- was make them beat themselves.”
In other races, Tony Schumacher defeated Larry Dixon in the top fuel final to win at Texas Motorplex. Schumacher has a 33-point lead over Dixon, a Van Nuys High graduate, in the top fuel standings.
Greg Anderson defeated Johnny Gray in the pro stock final. Mike Edwards leads the pro stock standings by 65 points over Jeg Coughlin.
Hector Arana defeated Eddie Krawiec in the pro stock motorcycle final. Arana leads the pro stock motorcycle standings by 27 points over Krawiec. Karen Stoffer, a graduate of St. Geneveive High School in Sun Valley, is seventh in the pro stock motorcycle standings.
Photo: Robert Hight won the NHRA funny car portion of the races at Texas Motorplex on Sunday. It was his second win in a row and his third straight final appearance. With the win at Texas, Hight took over the lead in the funny car standings. (NHRA)