Auto Club Chevrolet driver Robert Hight relishes
battling for 2017 Funny Car championship
LAS VEGAS (Oct. 24) – Auto Club of Southern California driver Robert Hight is relishing the battle for the 2017 Funny Car championship with his John Force Racing team.
Rather than worrying about the pressure of contending for a title, Hight is enjoying being in the position to fight for a championship. Hight, winner of the most recent race on the NHRA tour, sits in second place in the standings, a mere 24 points out of the lead.
Hight joins JFR teammate Brittany Force in battling for a title, as she is also in second in the Top Fuel standings.
“We haven’t been in this position – any of our teams – in the last two years: Going down to the last two races with a shot at winning the championship,” Hight said. “Brittany and I are legitimate contenders. I can remember going to Las Vegas last year, and you go to the SEMA show, and you’re bummed out because you meet all these fans, and they know that you’re not in the hunt and you’ve been struggling.
“We’ve turned it around, so it’s a lot of pride. We need to make the most of this. We’re here, so we’ve got to close the deal.”
Hight, winner of four races and eight No. 1 qualifiers in 2017, isn’t bothered by the pressure, either. He and crew chief Jimmy Prock own the national record for elapsed time (3.987 seconds) and speed (339.87 mph), so they know they have a fast race car.
“I’m not putting any extra pressure on myself,” Hight said. “When you have confidence in your car and you know you’ve got the best car out there, that helps you and takes away pressure. It’s not like we’re just squeaking by qualifying or anything else. If we go out there and do what we know how to do, we’re going to win.”
Hight is also enjoying another title battle, as his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers are in the World Series, chasing the Major League Baseball championship.
“It’s kind of cool,” Hight said. “It’s a big deal. It’s been 29 years since the Dodgers have been in the World Series, and I’m a huge Dodger fan. To be in the hunt at the same time is very, very cool. But I’m really focused on what we have to do. The Dodgers are entertainment for me, and what I’m doing is business.”
Two qualifying runs are scheduled for Friday (2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific) and Saturday (2 and 4:30 p.m.). Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. Pacific on Sunday.
Fox Sports 1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 3 p.m. Pacific on Friday and one hour of qualifying coverage at noon on Sunday. FS1 will have three hours of live finals coverage at 1 p.m. Pacific on Sunday.
Robert Hight has competed in 25 races at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and qualified for 24 races, and each race since the 2011 Spring event. His first race came in 2005, his rookie season.
Hight has five victories at Las Vegas – three in the Spring race (2007, 2011, 2012) and two in the Fall race (2009, 2015). Overall, he has eight finals appearances.
Hight is 39-19 in 58 elimination rounds (.672) at Las Vegas.
Overall, Hight has seven No. 1s at Las Vegas – four in the Spring race (2006, 2008, 2012, 2013) and three in the Fall race (2006, 2007, 2008). His seven No. 1s at Vegas represents the most of any track.
Overall, Hight is 16-8 in 24 first-round elimination matchups at Las Vegas. He has won eight of the last nine first-round matchups at the track.
Hight’s 41 victories are the fourth most in Funny Car history, behind John Force (148); Ron Capps (58); and Tony Pedregon (43). He is 20th on the all-time professional victories list, one behind pro stock motorcycle riders Angelle Sampey and Eddie Krawiec.
Hight recorded his 400th elimination-round win Aug. 20 at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. His 413 round wins are 23rd all-time in NHRA’s professional categories and sixth all-time in Funny Car. He is seven round wins behind Jim Yates (pro stock) for 22nd all-time.
Hight has been the No. 1 qualifier eight times this season, and seven times in the last 10 races. His 57 No. 1s are third most in Funny Car history – only John Force (155) and Cruz Pedregon (61) have more in the category. He is ninth all-time across all professional categories. His next target – Don Prudhomme, who is eighth with 59.
In 2017, Hight has four victories, a 40-18 record in elimination rounds, and eight No. 1 qualifiers. His 40 elimination-round wins in a season is a career-best, breaking the previous mark set in 2014 (38). He has surpassed 30 elimination-round wins in a season eight times in 12 seasons.
Hight has faced 21 different drivers this season in elimination rounds and has at least one win against 20 of them (exception is Jonnie Lindberg, 0-2). He has a season-high four elimination-round wins over Tommy Johnson Jr. and Courtney Force.
Hight has set the fastest event speed a career-best 13 times this season, which exceeds his previous season-best of seven set in his rookie season, 2005. He now has 54 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 10 track records for elapsed time (nine of which have been set this season) and 12 track records for speed (all of which have been set this season).
Hight has six final rounds this season and 63 in his career.
Hight has competed in 164 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 AAA Texas FallNationals in Ennis, Texas
Most recent No. 1 qualifier – 2017 AAA Texas FallNationals in Ennis, Texas
Best time/speed at Las Vegas – 3.885 seconds (2016 #2 Q2); 325.37 mph (2016 #1 Q4)
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)
Hight will be signing autographs at the NHRA Fanfest from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Fremont Street Experience on the Third Street Stage.
Hight will be participating in a pre-race media luncheon Thursday afternoon on the Las Vegas strip. Media interested in attending the luncheon should contact Jenn Goethel, 574-320-7956, email@example.com.