AAA Missouri driver Robert Hight snares
56th career No. 1, joins exclusive company
MADISON, Ill. (Sept. 30) – AAA Missouri Chevrolet Camaro driver Robert Hight joined some exclusive NHRA company at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday by snaring the No. 1 qualifying spot for the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals.
The No. 1 was Hight’s 56th of his brilliant career, and he moved into a tie for ninth with Joe Amato and Mike Edwards on NHRA’s list of all-time No. 1 qualifiers.
He also tied John Force Racing teammate Courtney Force for most No. 1s this season, seven, in Funny Car.
But Hight was also surprised he hung on to the No. 1 spot.
“We pushed a little hard today,” Hight said of Saturday’s two runs, in which he smoked the tires. “This is the first time that we smoked the tires two runs in a row in a long time. That shows you (crew chief) Jimmy Prock was out there pushing. The conditions were out there where I’m honestly surprised no one ran better than our .83 and that we’re still No. 1 qualifier.
“It’s nice to be on the top. But I’m surprised. I figured my teammates could do it – there’s a lot of good cars out there.”
Hight’s pole-winning run of 3.830 seconds at 333.91 mph came in the second qualifying session Friday, and it also broke the track elapsed-time record. His run in Q1, 3.845 seconds at 338.60 mph set the track speed record.
Hight, Prock and the entire team were hoping for more speed Saturday.
“We were pushing hard,” Hight said. “Sometimes you’ve got to know your threshold. Going into Sunday, if you’ve gone down the track every time, you don’t know how close you are to the edge. We definitely know where we’re at based on today’s runs, and we’re going to have to back up a little from there and get after it tomorrow.”
Hight sits second in the Funny Car standings heading into race day, six behind leader Ron Capps. Hight will start race day against No. 16 qualifier Dale Creasy, who had a best pass of 4.037 seconds at 303.64 mph.
“Qualifying’s behind us,” Hight said. “It’s all about round wins now. We’ve got to get round wins. Jimmy Prock and I believe that it’s going to take 15, 16 round wins in the Countdown to win this championship. We need four tomorrow.”
St. Louis marks the third of six Countdown to the Championship races. Final eliminations are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Central. Fox Sports 1 will provide three hours of live eliminations beginning at 1 p.m. Central.
Qualifying Round 1 (Left Lane): 3.845 seconds/338.60 mph; set track records for time and speed, third fastest speed of career and sixth in NHRA history right down the middle (No. 1 of session and No. 1 overall; three bonus points in session)
Qualifying Round 2 (Right Lane): 3.830 seconds/333.91 mph; reset the track elapsed time record again, narrowly edging teammate John Force by two thousandths of a second (No. 1 of session and No. 1 overall; three bonus points in session and six bonus points overall)
Qualifying Round 3 (Left Lane): 4.795 seconds/162.70 mph; smokes tires about 400 feet down the track and slows (No. 11 of session and No. 1 overall; no bonus points in session and six bonus points overall)
Qualifying Round 4 (Right Lane): 7.042 seconds/97.98 mph; strikes tires around the 200-foot mark and slows (No. 14 of session and No. 1 overall; no bonus points in session and six bonus points overall)
This marks the second consecutive race, seventh time this season and 56th time in his career Hight has qualified No. 1. He also qualified No. 1 in last weekend’s race at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa.
Hight’s 56 No. 1s tie him for the ninth most of any driver in NHRA’s professional categories, with Joe Amato and Mike Edwards.
Hight is looking for his ninth victory from the No. 1 position. He holds a 90-47 career record in 137 elimination rounds after qualifying No. 1. He has also been to 14 finals after qualifying No. 1.
This is Hight’s third No. 1 at Gateway and second consecutive at the track. His other No. 1s have come in 2006 and 2016; both times he made it to the quarterfinals.
Hight’s first-round matchup against Dale Creasy Jr. marks the third time this season and sixth time overall the two will compete against each other. Hight has won all five of the previous meetings, all of which have occurred in the first round. Their last meeting came at Brainerd in August – also when Hight was No. 1 and Creasy was No. 16.
This is the 15th No. 1 for John Force Racing in 2017, the first season since 2010 the team has 15 or more No. 1s. This is also the 289th Funny Car No. 1 for JFR and 296th overall.