CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
MENARDS NHRA HEARTLAND NATIONALS
HEARTLAND MOTORSPORTS PARK IN TOPEKA, KANSAS
SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2019
Chevrolet Camaros register two victories in Kansas
Robert Hight picks up Funny Car field-leading fourth win of season
Austin Prock advances to first Top Fuel semifinal in 10-race career
Stephen Bell wins all-COPO Camaro Factory Stock Showdown final
TOPEKA, Kan. (June 9, 2019) – Robert Hight’s Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS was consistently quick again on race day, which made it a long day for Funny Car competitors.
Hight recorded his fourth victory in 10 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events and extended his championship points lead by winning the 31st Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties.
Hight tied NHRA Hall of Famer Don Prudhomme (14 Top Fuel, 35 Funny Car) for 13th in all professional categories with his 49th victory. It was the 137th Chevrolet victory in Funny Car since 1967 and 57th with a Camaro body.
“I started with John Force 25 seasons ago at this track and gave me the opportunity to drive this Auto Club Chevy. I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” said Hight, who owns a 26-6 elimination round record. “I want to thank everyone – Chevy, AAA, Auto Club.”
Hight, the No. 9 qualifier, recorded an event-best 3.904-second pass in the first round of eliminations. He followed with 3.951 and 3.900 passes. Hight bettered his event-low elapsed time with a 3.895-second pass at 330.88 mph in the final.
Teammate John Force missed by .004 of a second of advancing to his 252nd Funny Car final and an opportunity to register his NHRA record-extending 150th victory. Force, the No. 3 qualifier in the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS, reached the semifinals for the sixth time in 10 races.
Austin Prock, driving the Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist Chevrolet dragster advanced to the semifinals for the first time in his 10 NHRA Top Fuel events. Prock, who scored a career-best No. 3 qualifier, defeated John Force Racing teammate Brittany Force (Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet dragster) in the quarterfinals.
In an all-Chevrolet COPO Camaro final, Stephen Bell of Shreveport, Louisiana, defeated Arthur Kohn in the fourth round of the SAM Tech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Showdown with an event-best pass of 7.908 seconds at 174.12 mph.
“We’re all teammates, we’re all best friends and that was an outstanding final run,” Bell said. We worked so hard on Tuesday and Wednesday; we probably made 40 test runs and here we are.”
Kohn, of Richmond, Texas, beat Ryan Priddy in his COPO Camaro in one of the semifinals. Both drivers won in the Factory Stock Showdown in 2018, and Bell was the runner-up in the opening round of the eight-race series in March at Gainesville.
This is the 50th anniversary year of the COPO Camaro – the race-ready muscle car that has been a consistent winner in Super Stock, Stock Eliminator and more recently the Factory Stock Showdown.
In the Stock Eliminator final, a first generation COPO Camaro driven by Chris Chaney defeated a 2018 COPO Camaro driven by Scott Libersher when Libersher, of Wilmington, Illinois, fouled by .002 of a second.
Chevrolet Pro Stock drivers, who have won all six races, are off until June 21-23 at Norwalk, Ohio.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues June 14-16 with the NHRA Thunder Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee. FS1 will telecast eliminations and finals live at 2 p.m. ET June 16.
An interview with Funny Car winner ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 9 qualifier; 49th career win to tie Don Prudhomme for 13th on the all-time list; third win this season; Funny Car points leader):
WALK US THROUGH YOUR EVENT, STARTING WITH QUALIFYING THAT WASN’T YOUR TYPICAL EXCELLENCE.
“It’s the second time this year we’ve been in the bottom half of the field and we just had bad luck. We didn’t miss it or do anything wrong. Just every run we had bad luck; something breaking, something falling off. Finally we get it together Q4 low ET of the session and then low ET of every round on race day, so once you get going with this Auto Club Chevy team with Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham you just start rolling. Everybody knows their job, they work together so well, it’s a lot of fun.”
A CHALLENGING LADDER AT ALL TIMES IN THE FUNNY CAR RANKS. WHAT STICKS OUT WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT YOUR RACE DAY?
“I think there was a little bit of luck involved in the semifinal run. But when you go through the ladder like we did, this one was well-earned. But Tommy Johnson (in semifinals) double-stepped it up there. He was revving it up and I could hear it and then he blipped the throttle and I couldn’t hold it any longer because it was a .47 tree, which is about the longest it will go. As I went by the tree I looked and I was green and he was red, but I knew I left too soon. For the final round, you have to go back up there and perform again, so you just have to put that behind you. I spent most of my time between rounds working on my tree, getting that out of my head.”
THIS HAS TO BE KIND OF AN ADOPTED HOME WITH ALL THE LANDMARKS YOU’VE HAD HERE?
“It was 25 seasons ago that I came in here. I flew in and met the team and went to work doing the clutch. That was pretty cool, and then I got my Funny Car license here. I have a lot of fond memories here, and now getting the win this race here a few times is pretty cool. This is a great racetrack, the fans are great, it’s one of my favorites.”
WHEN YOU’VE HAD SUCCESS AT A TRACK, IS THERE A SENSE THAT IT’S GOING TO BE A GOOD WEEKEND?
“When your car is running like mine and we’ve been in six of 10 finals, that’s pretty impressive. That’s not Steve Torrence impressive, but it is nonetheless. Funny Car is pretty tough. We have a lot of confidence right now no matter where we’re at. People think that this car runs good only when the conditions are good. I thinkn we showed last night when it was hot we were low of the session and then today once it got hot we were running 3.89 on a 122-degree track is pretty IMPRESSIVE.”
JIMMY PROCK HAS A LOT OF WINNING HISTORY HERE EVEN BEFORE HE GOT TOGETHER WITH YOU.
“Yes, he does. Jimmy’s a winner. This is what he does, this is what he lives for. Sometimes I feel sorry for him because that’s all he does is stare at that computer and think about ways to make this Auto Club Chevy be faster.”
IT’S A BIG DEAL TO TIE DON “THE SNAKE” PRUDHOMME.
“It’s a real big deal. I can’t believe my name is used in the same sentence as Don Prudhomme. Forty-nine, that’s crazy. You know what’s really crazy is that I’m only 100 back from John (Force), but I’m coming.”
CHEVROLET FROM THE COCKPIT
BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET DRAGSTER (No. 9 qualifier; fell in quarterfinals): “It felt good to finally get past that first round. First round is always tough and I was excited to turn on that win light. We ran a 3.69, which was awesome. It was the low of the session. Second round, we got beat by our teammate Austin Prock. It had holes out from the step but I’m feeling good. We made some big moves, big changes and its finally starting to show.”
AUSTIN PROCK, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONTANA BRAND/ROCKY MOUNTAIN TWIST CHEVROLET DRAGSTER (No. 3 qualifier; fell in semifinal round): “We had our best day of the season today and just came up a little short of the finals. We lost lane choice after that second round and I think that maybe hurt us a little bit, but we had a good day. Those Torrence boys, they’re tough but we’re still building this program and when we get it right, we’re going to give them a run for their money so we’ll see what happens in Bristol.”
JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT & MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 3 qualifier; fell in semifinal round): “The PEAK Chevrolet that I have is really fast. I have to give credit to my people, Brian Corradi and Danny Hood. All of those guys have been working hard. There’s been a lot of changes for me and I’m getting used to them still. I just have to up my game but we’re ready for Bristol and hoping to get this hot rod in the winner’s circle.”