HIGHT BRINGING FUNNY CAR CONSISTENCY TO CHICAGO
JOLIET, IL (June 25, 2014) — For two-time O’Reilly Auto Parts Rt 66 NHRA Nationals finalist Robert Hight he could not be rolling into Rt. 66 Raceway at a better time. The Auto Club Ford Mustang Hight races to speeds over 300 mph has been running low ETs the past events with a consistency that would make a top tier sportsman racer drool. Last weekend in Epping, New Hampshire Hight ran 3.988 seconds to grab the No. 1 qualifying spot and then his final three runs of the event were all in the 4.06 second range. Unfortunately for Hight low ETs have not equated to winner circle appearances.
“Our Auto Club Mustang has been running as well as any other Funny Car out here. It is consistent and quick. We just haven’t gotten some breaks but we are going to start making our own luck this weekend. Mike Neff, my crew chief, won this race as a driver and has qualified well here too. I am looking forward to making the most of the two night sessions and then doing well on race day,” said Hight, the current Mello Yello Funny Car points leader.
Last year Hight qualified eighth and beat Chad Head in first round before losing to Ron Capps in the second round. His teammate John Force was runner-up at the event and it kept a streak of final round appearance alive for JFR at the Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals.
Since 2009 at least one JFR Funny Car has reached the final round at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals. That span of five races has also seen Hight’s current crew chief Mike Neff take the win from the No. 1 spot in 2011 as a driver and crew chief of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.
Two years ago it was rookie Courtney Force dropping a close race to Jeff Arend in the final and in 2010 Hight was going for his fourth win in row of the season when he came up just short to Matt Hagan in the final. Ashley Force Hood started the JFR final round streak in 2009 when she raced to the final only to be outrun by former JFR teammate Tony Pedregon.
Hight previous final round appearance was in his sophomore season (2006) when he was defeated by teammate John Force in the final round. JFR has six wins by the team at Chicago with Tony Pedregon winning in 2002 and 2003; John Force in 2000, 2004 and 2006; and Mike Neff in 2011. Hight would like to add his name to that list this season.
“We have four wins and six final round appearances coming into Chicago and we want to add to that list. I have so much confidence in my team I feel like we are contenders as soon as we roll the Funny Car out of the hauler. My crew guys work great together and I just feel like we are right around the corner from another streak,” said Hight.
As the current points leader Hight has led the points after eight of 11 races this year. He has led the points at least one time every season he has raced except 2013.
“I like to be the points leader and I want to keep that No. 1 beside my name all the way through Pomona and the Auto Club Finals. Our goal now is to continue to be consistent and win rounds. Every run down the track is data for us to use in the Countdown. Epping was great because we saw cool temperatures like we will see later in the season. Hopefully we will get some more cool temps in the night sessions in Joliet that we can run quick and get info for the Countdown,” said Hight.
BRITTANY FORCE RECHARGED FOR CHICAGO
Despite a tough first round loss at last weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals, Brittany Force is recharged and pumped up to attack Route 66 Raceway just outside Chicago for the 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals.
With the Route 66 Nationals being the third stop of four-back-to-back races, the 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year can’t wait to climb in the cockpit of her 10,000 horsepower Castrol EDGE Dragster and hit the drag strip. Her race car has been strong in qualifying and Brittany’s driven and focused on getting her first Top Fuel win for Castrol EDGE and John Force Racing.
“With back-to-back races, I stay more focused as a driver and my routine stays sharp. I know it can be hard on my guys but we perform better when we’re constantly on the move and it’s that momentum that will help us keep qualifying in the top half of the field and go some rounds,” said Brittany Force.
With her strong qualifying performances at New England Dragway last week, Brittany Force picked up bonus points during three of the four qualifying runs. Unfortunately, she fell from eighth to ninth place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel Points standings after last weekend’s first round loss, however the sophomore nitro driver’s performance behind the wheel is improving on every pass. The Castrol EDGE team, led by Todd Smith and Dean “Guido” Antonelli, has also been giving Brittany a very fast, safe and consistent ride. There are still many races left before the Countdown to the Championship begins after the Chevrolet Performance NHRA U.S. Nationals, so Brittany’s very optimistic she’ll be in the hunt.
Earlier this season, Brittany Force made a trip to the finals at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, and had a strong finish a few weeks ago at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals, in which she drove her Castrol EDGE Dragster to a top ten qualifying position and quarterfinal finish. She knows her team has the right attitude and energy to go rounds and perhaps even win this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals.
Her sophomore year in the Top Fuel class has seen a dramatic improvement from her rookie season in both her skills as a driver and the attitude of the team.
“Our Castrol EDGE team has been improving with each race. We are a much stronger team than last year. Todd Smith (crew chief) and Dean Antonelli (assistant crew chief) and the rest of my guys have been doing awesome this season. We’ve been the number one qualifier twice and I know we’ll get our first Top Fuel win real soon,” said Brittany Force.
During last year’s NHRA Route 66 Nationals, Brittany Force and her Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster faced fellow competitor Bob Vandergriff Jr. in round one. Brittany ran a 3.846 second pass at 322.11 mph, but fell short to his 3.843 pass. Going into this year’s NHRA Route 66 Nationals, the Castrol EDGE team will be armed with valuable data recorded at last year’s event and will use this in setting the car up for competition.
Currently ninth in the NHRA Mello Yello points chase, Brittany is still happy in the direction the Castrol EDGE team is heading. Even though she’s still disappointed in her first round loss at the NHRA New England Nationals, she’s not dwelling on it and knows her racecar is capable of running with any other Top Fuel Dragster on race day.
For now, the always-optimistic 27 year-old Brittany Force and her team are looking forward to getting their first win at Route 66 Raceway. Armed with the valuable knowledge they’ve gained these past twelve months, it could happen. Even with back-to-back races, Brittany still finds time to focus on her reaction times and review her routine as a driver. She knows what needs to get done this weekend – qualifying in the top half of the field, getting lane choice and going rounds on race day.
“I’m very proud of my guys and how we’ve been running this year. I know we have what it takes to go rounds and win races,” said Brittany Force.