Auto Club driver Robert Hight records career-best time, speed in Sunday’s NHRA Gatornationals
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 19) – Defending NHRA Gatornationals Funny Car winner Robert Hight set a career-best time and speed in Sunday’s 48th annual NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, which he believes are good takeaways from the third round of this year’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Hight won his first-round matchup against Bob Tasca with his 3.828-second, 334.82-mph pass, both career bests and the fourth quickest elapsed time in series history. That run followed up a string of solid runs during qualifications that netted him the No. 2 position (3.844 at 331.61 mph). Both elimination first-round time and speed were also quickest and fastest of the weekend.
“I was definitely excited coming into today, and for good reason,” said Hight, the three-time Gatornationals winner. “We had low ET of the first round of the whole event and top speed. That was a stellar run.”
Hight ran into rookie Jonnie Lindberg in the second round, looking to mirror that opening-round elimination run. But it wasn’t to be. The rookie – who had just won his first career Funny Car round earlier – put together another solid run at 3.980 at 322.19 mph, while Hight smoked the tires early and coasted to the finish, officially recording a pass of 7.776 at 89.13 mph.
“(Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) thought that he had backed it off enough for second round, because it’s warm, and the motor was just too high and it blew the tires off,” Hight said.
Teammate John Force went on to defeat Lindberg in the final round, winning the race for the eighth time and giving JFR his 2,500th Funny Car round win in the process.
Hight remains optimistic, though, that his team will turn things around. He’s hopeful they do in the next race, the NHRA Nationals from March 31-April 2 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada.
“I have a lot of confidence leaving here, and it’s not like we are looking for a combination,” said Hight, who moved up to sixth in the points standings. “We know we can run fast and quick; we just have to do it consistently. We made some great runs in qualifying and the two previous runs we were low ET of the session. So we will take a lot of good things away from the weekend.”