‘Backbreaker’ run puts AAA Texas driver
Robert Hight in No. 1 spot for 8th time in 2017
ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 14) – Friday the 13th brought horrible luck for AAA Texas driver Robert Hight. But Saturday the 14th was much better.
Hight made a “backbreaker” pass in the final qualifying session, 3.871 seconds at 332.84 mph, to snare the No. 1 qualifier for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Saturday at Texas Motorplex. That’s Hight’s third in a row, his eighth of the season – most in the Funny Car class – and 57th of his career. He now holds sole possession of ninth place all-time for No. 1s.
But it was a bit of a surprise for the John Force Racing driver.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Hight said. “I figured we’d go up there and try to run .92, somewhere in there and be a solid, top-half car. You start thinking, ‘Wow, we’re going to be down in the ladder.’ That’s uncharted territory for us.
“But (crew chief) Jimmy Prock just has a good handle on this car, hot or cold. I saw the scoreboard light up down there, and I couldn’t believe it ran .871. That blew me away. That was a backbreaker.”
And it came after a difficult Friday the 13th, where Hight didn’t make a full pass in either qualifying session as he sat in the No. 14 spot after Q2.
“It was kind of a turning of the tables for the weekend for us,” Hight said. “(Points leader Ron) Capps was going to gain some points on us going into race day, and as it turned out, we gained on him. It all adds up in the end. Great job by these guys.
“I joked that we’re not going to ever race again on Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th did not go well for us. Today was a good day.”
Hight slid into the No. 1 spot ahead of Capps, and because of the added bonus points, Hight chipped two points off Capps’ point lead to 44 heading into the fourth of six Countdown to the Championship races.
But Sunday – when Hight faces No. 16 qualifier Jim Campbell in the first round – will be quite different than Friday and Saturday.
Temperatures reached the 90s on the first two days, with high humidity as well. But Sunday? Temps will barely reach 70 degrees and will be cooler than that when the race is slated to start at 11 a.m. Central.
“Everybody here is going to have to throw our everything they’ve done,” Hight said. “We’re talking serious changes tomorrow. They’re calling for 64 degrees at 11 o’clock, and that is going to be crusher conditions.
“You can’t let up. You’re going to see close to national records, if not national records tomorrow. You could see the first 340 mph run here with the kind of conditions we’re going to have. It is going to be as good as we’ve had all year.”
Fox Sports 1 will televise three hours of live qualifying at 1 p.m. Central on Sunday.
This is the first time this season and 20th time in his career Force has qualified No. 10 for a race. His is looking for his second victory and third finals from No. 10.
This is the second time Force has qualified No. 10 at Dallas. He was also No. 10 in 2012.
Force’s only victory from the No. 10 position came in 2007 at Sonoma Raceway in California.
Force’s first-round matchup against Tommy Johnson Jr. marks the 48th time the two will compete against each other. Force owns a 33-14 advantage all-time, with a 2-2 mark this season and 2-1 record at Dallas.
This is the third consecutive race, eighth race this season and 57th of his career Hight has qualified No. 1. His three-race streak also includes No. 1s at Maple Grove Raceway (Reading, Pa.) and Gateway Motorsports Park (Madison, Ill.)
This is the sixth time Hight has qualified No. 1 for a race at Dallas. He was also No. 1 in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2016, when he set the track record of 3.839 seconds (332.02 mph).
With his No. 1 at Dallas, Hight moves into sole possession of ninth in all NHRA professional categories. He entered the event tied for ninth with Joe Amato and Mike Edwards.
Hight has seven career victories from the No. 1 position, most recently in August at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash.
Hight’s first-round matchup against Jim Campbell marks the fourth time the two will face each other in elimination-round competition. Hight holds a 2-1 advantage in the previous three matchups, all of which have come in a first-round this season.