Keeping Pace

Funny Car Champ Hight excited about Countdown launch

Robert Hight lights up his Ford Mustang in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)
Robert Hight lights up his Ford Mustang in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)

For Robert Hight the defending NHRA Funny Car champion rolling into Indy this year has a comfortable and excited feeling.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Indianapolis, Ind.-It is recognized as the biggest and most prestigious race on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. This year the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals will also take on an additional air of importance as the first race of the Countdown to 1. As if there wasn’t enough pressure to win one of the most historic races now driver’s turn up the heat to start their championship dreams on the right foot with a win at O’Reilly Raceway Park. For Robert Hight the defending NHRA Funny Car champion rolling into Indy this year has a comfortable and excited feeling.

“I’m definitely excited about going into the Countdown this year. Last year, [I] just barely made it and I still really believe we owe that to John Force and his making a lot of changes with our team right at the end before the regular season was over. He shuffled things around, it got the crew chiefs’ minds right and we went back to basics. We used the ‘One Ford’ approach and got all the cars on the same page and working together and we carried that philosophy into this year,” said the four time 2010 winner.

During the regular season Hight and Force battled for the top spot and Hight came up one point short in his quest to have the points lead going into Labor Day and the final six races of the season.

“John moved Mike Neff around, put him in charge over there. They basically duplicated our Auto Club Mustang and as you can see the first 17 races, John and my car, we were just winning four races each and ended up one point apart. I think we learned a lot. That one point also makes us think that in the next six races, every run we make, every qualifying run, there’s points available and we have to make the most of everything if we want one of these Ford Mustangs to win. I still owe it to John Force for making all of this happen and shuffling people around and making the right calls.”

“We also have the 2010 Ford Mustang body that I believe is definitely more efficient aerodynamically. John and Ashley have both gone 316 miles an hour this year, so we owe a lot to them and their engineers for giving us the best equipment to go out there and compete with. I’ve been in finals at the last four Indys so I’m looking forward to going back to Indy this year.”  

For Hight starting the Countdown in Indy is something that he is looking forward to because of the history of the event.

“This is biggest race we have all year long. This is the grand daddy of them all. We’ve all had good luck here. It was exciting racing Ashley in the final last year. It doesn’t get much better than that, to have two Force Ford Mustangs in the final. Don Garlits once told me that because I had won Indy I could retire now. I want to win championships though. I want to win more Indys and more championships. This is a great place to start the Countdown and we have had good luck there,” added Hight.

“The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals start out Friday night, one run under the lights and you have got to get that run in and you have got to be quick. You are going to see less than a tenth of a second from number one to number 16 in Funny Car at US Nationals. Every run counts. It is an exciting time for us. On Thursday we have an all Ford car show at the shop in Indy, an open house to kick off the US Nationals. It is going to be very busy the next week and a half for John Force Racing.”

Hight has appeared in the past four finals in a row picking up wins in 2006 and 2008. John Force Racing has had tremendous success at O’Reilly Raceway Park. If the pattern holds true it could be a successful start for one of the three John Force Racing drivers. For the past decade a JFR driver has won the U.S. Nationals on the even numbered years, John Force (2002), Gary Densham (2004), Hight (2006 and 2008).

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.




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