Big weekend ahead at Gateway for
AAA Missouri driver Robert Hight
MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 27) – The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park is an important race for Robert Hight – for many reasons.
For starters, Hight is in the thick of the championship battle in Funny Car, sitting eight points out of the lead as the Countdown to the Championship hits the halfway point after this event.
Plus, this race is big for Hight because he’s carrying the race’s sponsor on his Chevrolet Camaro SS, as he’ll drive the AAA Missouri Chevy at Gateway.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Hight said. “Those guys in St. Louis really get behind us, and they’re all good folks. It’s one of my favorite cities, one of my favorite tracks. We want go to in there and put on a good show for them. We’ve won there before, so we know how to do it. I’m proud to have AAA on for the next couple races: St. Louis and Dallas. I hope we can get in the winner’s circle and have them join us.”
Hight comes to St. Louis on a hot streak that started this summer, as crew chief Jimmy Prock, co-crew chief Chris Cunningham and the entire John Force Racing team have powered Hight to three victories, six No. 1 qualifiers and the national record in elapsed time (3.793 seconds) and speed (339.87 mph) over the last 12 races.
“It’s a lot of pressure, because you’ve got a great race car, and you don’t want to screw it up,” Hight said. “You’ve got to go up there and make perfect runs. You want to win a championship? That’s what you’ve got to do. We are all up to the task.
“It’s pretty cool when Jimmy Prock can up there and tell you within a hundredth or two what the thing’s going to run. That’s not easy to do especially when you’re trying to run that hard. If you’re being conservative, that’s one thing to go up there and be consistent. But to do it and be quick – it’s an art.”
Hight, the 2009 Funny Car champion, led the Funny Car standings at Charlotte and has helped pad his points total with a plethora of qualifying bonus points. He piled up 10 last weekend in Reading, Pa., to give him 13 in the Countdown – more than double the next driver.
Drivers earn three points for being quickest in each of the four qualifying sessions, with two for No. 2 and one for No. 3. Hight hopes to add to that total this weekend, as well as chase the national speed record – and perhaps become the first into the 340-mph range.
“Can’t wait to get to St. Louis,” Hight said. “The weather forecast looks great long-range. That’s a place you could see 340 miles an hour. It’s a great racing surface, and I love the fans there. It wouldn’t hurt to do it at a AAA event. I think we can do it. I’m excited about St. Louis.”
Two qualifying sessions are slated for Friday (5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Central) and Saturday (2 and 4:30 p.m.), with eliminations slated for 11 a.m. Central on Sunday.
Fox Sports 1 will broadcast an hour of Friday’s qualifying live at 5 p.m. Central and will have one hour of coverage on Sunday at 1 a.m. Central. FS1 will provide three hours of live eliminations, beginning at 1 p.m.
Robert Hight has competed in 11 races at Gateway Motorsports Park, and has qualified for every race since 2005, his rookie season (no race held in 2011).
Hight has one victory and one finals appearance at Gateway – in 2010, defeating Jack Beckman in the finals.
Hight is 11-10 all-time in 21 elimination rounds at Gateway.
Hight has qualified No. 1 twice at Gateway – in 2006 and 2016. He won both of those opening-round matchups.
Overall, Hight is 6-5 in 11 first-round elimination matchups at Gateway.
Hight’s 40 victories are the fourth most in Funny Car history, behind John Force (148); Ron Capps (55); and Tony Pedregon (43). He is tied with pro stock driver Kurt Johnson; former pro stock driver Mike Edwards; and current pro stock motorcycle rider Eddie Krawiec for 19th on the all-time professional victories list.
Hight recorded his 400th elimination-round win Aug. 20 at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. His 407 round wins are 23rd all-time in NHRA’s professional categories and sixth all-time in Funny Car. He is 13 round wins behind Jim Yates (pro stock) for 22nd all-time.
Hight has been the No. 1 qualifier six times this season, and five times in the last eight races. His 55 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. Hight is also one No. 1 behind Joe Amato and Mike Edwards for a tie for ninth all-time.
In 2017, Hight has three victories, a 34-17 record in elimination rounds, and six 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 eight times in 12 seasons.
Hight has set the fastest event speed a career-best 11 times this season, which exceeds his previous season-best of seven set in his rookie season, 2005. He now has 52 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 seven track records for elapsed time (six of which have been set this season) and 10 track records for speed (all of which have been set this season).
Hight has five final rounds this season and 62 in his career.
Hight has competed in 162 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 NHRA Carolina Nationals in Concord, N.C.
Most recent No. 1 qualifying effort – 2017 NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.
Best time/speed at Gateway – 3.893 seconds (2016 Q2); 328.38 mph (2016 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)