Auto Club driver Robert Hight hopes
for hot start to Countdown in Charlotte
CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 12) – Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car driver Robert Hight holds NHRA records for elapsed time and speed. But Hight has another goal in mind as the Countdown to the Championship begins with the NHRA Carolina Nationals this weekend at zMAX Dragway.
The 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship.
Hight sits No. 2 in the Funny Car points standings as the six-race Countdown begins, a mere 20 points out of the lead as the points were reset following the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
“What makes the second Charlotte race so important is the start of the Countdown,” Hight said. “It’s pretty important to leave Charlotte with some momentum. If you can get out of there with a win, boy, look out. That sets the tone for the rest of the Countdown. But there’s nine other drivers with the same outlook.”
Hight has two victories this season and has shown plenty of speed during a recent stretch. He’s qualified third or better in the last 11 races, earning five No. 1s over that span. Plus, he’s been to the semifinals in three of the last five events, winning in Denver and Seattle.
“We’ve got to go in and get it done,” Hight said. “I like the way my car’s running. If we do everything right, we have an advantage. We’ve worked hard all year, and it’s time to race. Now is when it counts. We got up to No. 2 in the regular season, so there’s only one place to go in my mind, and that’s up.”
Hight has been a perennial contender for the Funny Car championship, a title he last won in 2009. He’s more than ready to add a second championship to his resume.
“It’s been way too long, and given the last couple years with our performance and where we finished, this would put us back on track,” Hight said. “This is all I think about, all I’m working toward – along with the rest of my team.
“The most rewarding part of it would be to do it with (crew chief) Jimmy Prock again. I won my other championship with him, and to now be reunited with him and to get it done with him, that would be pretty awesome.”
The Carolina Nationals begins with two rounds of qualifying Friday, at 3:30 and 6 p.m. Eastern (live television coverage begins at 6 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1). Two more qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:30 and 4 p.m. Eastern on Saturday (television coverage at 2 a.m. Sunday on FS1). Final elimination rounds start at noon Eastern on Sunday (live coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m.).
Robert Hight has competed in 17 races at zMAX Dragway, and has qualified for every race since the track’s first NHRA race in 2008. That includes nine traditional “two-wide” races and eight Four-Wide Nationals events.
Hight has four victories at Charlotte – winning the fall races twice (2009 and 2013) and the Four-Wide Nationals twice (2012 and 2014). He has won in each of his four finals appearances.
Hight is 23-13 all-time in 36 elimination rounds at Charlotte.
Hight has qualified No. 1 twice at Charlotte – in 2010 and 2012 (both at the Four-Wide Nationals). His best qualifying effort in the fall race has been No. 2, on two occasions (2008 and 2014).
Hight is 11-6 in 17 first-round elimination matchups at Indianapolis.
Hight’s 39 victories are the fourth most in Funny Car history, behind John Force (148); Ron Capps (55); and Tony Pedregon (43). He is tied with Del Worsham for 21st on the all-time professional victories list; Worsham has 31 wins in Funny Car and eight in Top Fuel.
Hight recorded his 400th elimination-round win Aug. 20 at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. His 402 round wins are 23rd all-time in NHRA’s professional categories and sixth all-time in Funny Car.
Hight has been the No. 1 qualifier five times this season, and four times in the last six races. His 54 No. 1s are third most in Funny Car history, and 11th across all professional categories. Only Force (155) and Cruz Pedregon (61) have more in the category.
In 2017, Hight has two victories, a 29-16 record in elimination rounds, and five No. 1 qualifiers. He holds a season-best 38 elimination-round wins in a season, in 2014. He has surpassed 30 elimination-round wins in a season seven times in 12 seasons.
Hight has set the fastest event speed a career-best 10 times this season, which exceeds his previous season-best of seven set in his rookie season, 2005. He now has 51 fastest event speeds in his career, the 50th coming in July at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, where he set the NHRA record at 339.87 mph.
Hight now holds six track records for elapsed time (five of which have been set this season) and nine track records for speed (all of which have been set this season).
Hight has four final rounds this season and 61 in his career.
Hight has competed in 160 consecutive races, tied for 17th all-time with Doug Kalitta, dating back to the second race at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., in 2010. It is also tied for the eighth longest active streak, also with Kalitta.
Most recent NHRA victory – 2017 Northwest Nationals in Kent, Wash.
Most recent No. 1 qualifying effort – 2017 NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.
Best time/speed at Charlotte – 3.873 seconds (2017 #1 Q2); 333.91 mph (2017 #1 Q2)
Best time/speed of career – 3.793 seconds (2017 Brainerd Q2; quickest elapsed time in Funny Car history); 339.87 mph (2017 Sonoma Q2; fastest speed in NHRA history)