Robert Hight, Courtney Force quickest on Day 1 of NHRA Nitro Spring Training

Robert Hight, Courtney Force quickest on Day 1 of
NHRA Nitro Spring Training
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 2) – John Force Racing driver Robert Hight turned the quickest overall elapsed time in the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car class to lead all drivers in Thursday’s opening day of the Nitro Spring Training test at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Hight set the time of 3.886 seconds at 302.75 mph during his opening pass, in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS. He was followed by Funny Car teammate Courtney Force in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS. Force’s best ET was 3.894 seconds at 318.47 mph.

Hight said the goal of his initial run was just to get accustomed to the car.

“It’s really nice to get out there and get that first one under your belt,” Hight said. “(Crew chief Mike) Neff said to go to half-track. When you make first runs of the season, you’re behind the car because it’s fast. You haven’t been in it, and you’re not used to it. But I could tell it was running (well), and I didn’t want to lift at half-track, so I took it a little further.

“I shut it off before the finish line and had the chutes out before the finish line. I think I drove it 3.5 seconds. It was going to run a mid-.80 and a pretty good speed, so it’s a good feeling.”

Despite shutting the car down early, Hight said “that run was a baseline” for the rest of the test and the beginning of the 2017 season. The other two runs, he said, weren’t as strong.

“It was like how we finished the year off,” Hight said. “Once we’ve got that, now we start plugging things in and trying and testing. We know we could go back to Pomona and qualify with what we had at the end of the year. We’re here to test and try to get better, and that’s what we’re doing from here forward.

“We’re going to try some things and try to learn to get better and run quicker. We shook weak on the second test run, and on the third one, we broke two rods right when I stood on the gas, and we didn’t learn a thing.

“We’ll regroup and try some new things tomorrow. You’re going to have to run low .80s to leave here Sunday with low ET. That’s our goal.”

Team owner John Force drove the Peak Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car to a best pass of 4.159 seconds at 227.04 mph. Brittany Force, in the Monster Energy Drink Top Fuel dragster, had a top lap of 3.769 seconds at 316.82 mph.

Nitro Spring Training continues Friday through Sunday. The NHRA’s season-opening Circle K Winternationals at Auto Club Speedway at Pomona starts Feb. 10.