HIGHT LEADS WAY ON CRITICAL BRAINERD FRIDAY
BRAINERD, MN (August 16, 2013) — With only two races before the Countdown to the Championship every pass down the track is important. Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang team made the most of their efforts today posting the second quickest elapsed time of the Funny Car class to take the No. 2 provisional spot. Hight’s Mike Neff tuned Funny Car covered the 1000 ft race track in 4.054 seconds at 312.64 mph and earned two qualifying bonus points in the process.
“Given that we messed up the first run, we played it safe, which luckily safe turned out to be No. 2. This just shows that my guys have a great handle on this thing; to just go up there and run a 4.05 that easy,” said Hight. “We were trying to run a lot harder on that first run. If you look at the computer, it was going to try to run a 4.07 if it would have made it. We’re being aggressive, we’re counting every point and I think going to Norwalk helped because that was just two more runs we made before we came here. That gives us more experience and data. We made up points today on everybody that we’re fighting for the Top 10. It’s all good stuff.”
Hight is battling with three other drivers to stay in the Top Ten and possibly grab the last spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. Tim Wilkerson holds down the No. 8 spot, Bob Tasca III in No. 9, Hight is No. 10, and Del Worsham is No. 11. Only Wilkerson and Hight picked up qualifying bonus points today. Only forty points or two rounds of racing separate Wilkerson from Worsham. Wilkerson was the provisional No. 3 qualifier and Tasca was No. 8 followed by Worsham in the No. 10 spot.
In the first session Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang were charging in the left lane when their Goodyear Tires came loose from the track hazing at about 700 feet and dropping Hight’s elapsed time to 4.743 seconds. The early numbers on that run were impressive and Neff the crew chief was able to build on that to put Hight at nearly the top of the pack.
Right behind Hight in the standings is teammate and leader John Force who moved up into the No. 4 provisional qualifying spot on the strength of his second qualifying run. Running beside Matt Hagan Force kept pace with the points leader and eventual provisional No. 1 qualifying until about 900 feet. Force crossed the finish line with a time of 4.073 seconds at a track speed record of 316.45 mph. Hagan was quickest of the day in Funny Car with a 4.044 second pass.
“We went down the race track both times, nothing really exciting. We made the top ten for today, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow. All three Funny Cars are doing good, but the dragster is still struggling,” said Force and eleven time winner of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Courtney Force landed in the No. 6 spot toady after the first two sessions of qualifying were complete. She picked up one bonus point for her Traxxas Ford Mustang team and continues to inch her way up in the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car standings.
“It felt great to come out here today and have our car back. It’s feeling a lot more consistent. We were able to make two great passes today,” said Force.
Force posted a 4.125 ET at 309.63 for the third-best pass and top speed of the round in Funny Car.
“In the first session we ran well. We sat No. 3 after the session was complete so we picked up one bonus point. We also had top speed of the first session so that was pretty cool too,” said Force.
In the second session, Force raced her Traxxas Ford Mustang to a 4.094 second run at 307.65 mph.
“On the second pass, we were able to improve on our time. Our Traxxas Ford Mustang made a good pass, but when we went down there it actually threw the rods out. It started acting up right at the finish line and threw the rods out right when I was hitting my chutes. I had a little bit of a fire because of that, but that’s all part of the game. We’re going to come out here tomorrow and take two more shots at it and hopefully improve from the 6th spot.”
“I’m excited for tomorrow. The conditions look like they’re going to be a lot different; it’s going to be hotter. But it’s definitely a good track. I’m excited to be out here at the home of ‘the zoo.’ The fans here are amazing and they have so much energy. It really makes it fun to race for them. I think we have a good race car this weekend,” said Force.
In Top Fuel rookie Brittany Force made her first passes at Brainerd International Raceway. Her two runs did not put her in the top twelve but she will have two shots tomorrow to post a quick enough time to race on Sunday. Track conditions were decent but getting a handle on the Castrol EDGE Top Fuel dragster proved problematic for her crew chiefs.
“We had two qualifying passes today, both of which that didn’t quite go as we had hoped for,” said Force a leading contender for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award.
“First run we smoked the tires at about 200 feet and the second run we smoked them a little further than that. It wasn’t what we wanted, but we get two more qualifying runs tomorrow, so I’m hoping we can get this Castrol EDGE dragster down the track and we’ll be in good shape.”