Houston brings back special memories for
AAA Texas driver Robert Hight
Photo credit: Ron Lewis Photography
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 18) – The memories always flood back when AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car driver Robert Hight turns his thoughts to Houston.
Hight’s first career victory came here in 2005, his rookie season, and it came in his fourth race as a pro. As he returns to Royal Purple Raceway for the NHRA SpringNationals this weekend, his smile widens as he recalls that first victory.
“It seemed like that day took forever,” Hight said. “We were No. 1 qualifier, and every round was a big race that I had. I had to race John (Force), I had to race Cruz (Pedregon) in the final. This rookie is not supposed to be going to the final in his fourth race.
“I’ll never forget Houston. Once you’ve got your first win, then you know you can do it. There’s always an element of doubt until you actually get the first one. But once you’ve got that, I know I can.”
Hight beat Bob Gilbertson in the first round and Tommy Johnson Jr. in the second to set up a semifinal matchup with his boss, John Force.
Hight then took out his boss to face Funny Car veteran Cruz Pedregon in the final round. When Hight got the win light in the final, it capped a spectacular race for the rookie – and ensured Houston would forever remain a special place for him.
“You don’t forget that place and that day,” Hight said. “It was the greatest day ever for me, getting to be successful at what you’ve dreamed of doing. It’s one thing to get to do it, but to be successful at something you love, that’s pretty awesome.
“I look forward to Houston every year.”
Another reason Hight is excited for this race is he’ll carry sponsorship from AAA Texas, in addition to his Auto Club of Southern California backing.
“That’s a big deal for us to run their name on the side of the car and represent Texas,” Hight said.
Hight hasn’t had the start to the 2017 season he wanted, but a test after the most recent race, at Las Vegas, has him pumped for Houston and beyond.
“I’m very confident,” Hight said. “The way we tested Monday in Vegas, we were quite a bit better than anybody was all weekend. That gave us some confidence. We made it down the track every run, with very, very good runs. We tried some things, learned some things.
“We’re ready to get back after it. It’s been two weekends off, and that’s too much.”
Two qualifying sessions are slated for Friday (5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Central) and Saturday (2 and 4:30), with final eliminations slated for Sunday at 11 a.m.
Fox Sports 1 will broadcast three hours of eliminations starting at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Robert Hight has competed in the NHRA SpringNationals 10 times, and every year since 2009.
Hight has advanced to the final round of the NHRA SpringNationals twice, winning both times (2005, 2014). His 2005 victory was the first Funny Car win of his career.
Hight is 13-8 in elimination rounds in the NHRA SpringNationals.
Hight has qualified No. 1 once for the NHRA SpringNationals – in 2005.
Hight is 5-5 in first-round matchups in the NHRA SpringNationals.
In his career, Hight has 37 victories and 376 round wins. He has 49 No. 1 qualifying spots, tied for 13th all-time in NHRA’s professional categories.
Hight is currently seventh in Funny Car points standings, down one spot from sixth from the previous race.
Hight’s best time/speed at Houston – 3.953 seconds (2016 Q2); 324.98 mph(2016 Q2)
Hight’s best time/speed of career – 3.828 seconds (2017 Gainesville E1); 334.82 mph (2017 Gainesville E1)