Auto Club Chevrolet driver Robert Hight earns No. 9 qualifying position for Southern Nationals

Auto Club Chevrolet driver Robert Hight earns No. 9 qualifying position for Southern Nationals

Photo credit: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery
COMMERCE, Ga. (May 6) – Robert Hight will start from the No. 9 qualifying position in Funny Car for Sunday’s 37th-annual NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, the seventh race on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Hight – driving the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS – turned in a time of 4.024 seconds at 274.89 mph, in the second of two rounds Saturday afternoon. That effort came despite losing a cylinder a second-and-a-half into the run. Two sessions Friday were canceled because of inclement weather, forcing teams to alter strategy.

The second pass erased a disappointing showing in the opening session. A faulty rocker arm caused Hight to make an unusual burnout, and he barely hit the throttle at the start of the run before the car wiggled left and right and coasted to the finish line in excess of 10 seconds.

“We’re going to forget about today, put it behind us,” said Hight, who has three victories in six previous finals appearances at the track. “The rocker arm broke when we shut it off in the pits, and during the burnout I almost hit the (Christmas) Tree. It took out four cylinders when I hit the gas and just about came around on me.

“Just not a good day, but we’ll be where we need to be tomorrow. I have no doubt – or I’m not worried about it. We’re going to go out and set low E.T. tomorrow morning, keep lane choice all day, and win the race.”

Hight will face Chad Head, who is substituting for Alexis DeJoria this weekend, in Sunday’s first round. Head turned in a time of 4.024 seconds – two thousandths of a second quicker than Hight – at 312.57 mph to take the No. 8 spot.
Elimination rounds for the NHRA Southern Nationals begin at 11 a.m. Eastern. Fox Sports 1 begins its coverage at 6 p.m. Eastern.

4-Second Reads:
Qualifying Run No. 1: 12.643 seconds at 62.77 mph; dropped four cylinders before the start; 15th quickest of session
Qualifying Run No. 2: 4.026 seconds at 274.89 mph; dropped a cylinder; seventh quickest of session; ninth quickest in qualifying
This marks the first time Hight qualified No. 9 since February’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz. This is the 24th time he has qualified No. 9.
Hight has two career victories from the No. 9 qualifying position. His last victory came May 2, 2010, when he defeated Jack Beckman at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Hight’s most recent victory came in the 2016 NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
Hight’s matchup against Chad Head marks 13th time the two will compete in an elimination round. Hight holds the advantage 9-3, with four consecutive wins. Of those 13 matchups, 11 have come in the first round.
Hight has victories at Atlanta in 2007, 2010, and 2014. Those victories came from the No. 2 (twice) and No. 3 qualifying positions.