Robert Hight ready to get back on track with Auto Club Funny Car team at NHRA Arizona Nationals
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 21) – Robert Hight and his Auto Club of Southern California team head into the second round of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series this weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, with reason for optimism as well as a new setup on their Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car.
Hight fought to the No. 5 qualifying position in the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., but fell in the first elimination round. That followed a frustrating preseason test session at Wild Horse Pass earlier in the month.
“What I’m looking forward to most at Phoenix this year is getting back on track,” Hight said. “We didn’t have a good start out at Pomona. My team has worked during the off week to get geared up and more like our teammates (John and Courtney Force), who had a good showing at Pomona. I’m excited to get back on track at Phoenix. We need to win that race and get back in this fight. Can’t wait to get there.”
Hight said the team will rebound at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, where – despite several aborted runs – he was fourth quickest of Funny Car competitors during the three-day test. After discussions and data sharing between Hight’s crew chief Mike Neff and John Force’s crew chief Jimmy Prock, Hight’s team determined it would be beneficial to use a similar clutch setup to cars driven by his teammates.
“Our clutch setup was quite a bit different than theirs,” Hight said. “It’s very unfriendly. We fought it during testing. We made a couple good runs at testing, but we had aborted runs because of a shake, and we haven’t had a handle on it.
While making a completely new change to the clutch package could take time to work out, switching to a known setup gives Hight confidence going forward.
“It’s not like we’re making a change now that we don’t know how to deal with,” Hight said. “We have the data from those two cars, so I don’t even think we’d lose a run or waste a run making this change. That’s the luxury we have at JFR, with multiple teams and being able to look at their data and what they’re doing. We should be able to plug it into my car and go right down the track first run.”
Hight has shown strong at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in the past. With the exception of 2006, Hight has won at least round in 12 races and won the 2012 NHRA Arizona Nationals, defeating teammates Courtney Force (semifinals) and Neff (finals) to take the Wally. He has three other finals appearances, most recently in 2014. Hight also holds the track’s quarter-mile record in a Funny Car.
The Arizona Nationals begins Friday, with the first two rounds of qualifications (televised tape delay on Fox Sports 1 – midnight Eastern). Qualifying continues Saturday (tape delay on FS1 – midnight Eastern). FS1 will televise elimination rounds Sunday beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern.
Robert Hight has competed in the NHRA Arizona Nationals 12 times, and every year since 2005, the first year he competed in the event.
Hight has advanced to the final round of the Winternationals four times, winning once. His record in elimination round races at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is 23-11.
Hight has been the No. 1 qualifier for the NHRA Arizona Nationals once, in 2007. That year, he advanced to the finals.
Hight has only qualified outside the top eight four times in 12 NHRA Arizona Nationals.
Hight has won his first-round NHRA Arizona Nationals matchup 11 times in 12 attempts, including 10 times consecutively.
Hight holds the quarter-mile track record in Funny Car at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park at 4.64 seconds.
In his career, Hight has 37 victories and 373 round wins.
After campaigning the California Highway Patrol paint scheme at Pomona, Hight’s car will return to its Auto Club of Southern California look in Arizona.
Hight has previously hosted Los Angeles Dodgers players during race weekends at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. The Dodgers kick off their spring training schedule this weekend. “It’s cool that you get some of the baseball players to come out from spring training to check out NHRA drag racing; that’s what it’s all about,” Hight said.