Record-setting weekend ends in semifinals for Auto Club Chevrolet driver Robert Hight

Auto Club of Southern California driver Robert Hight left Brainerd International Raceway on Sunday with the national elapsed time record, second place in the Funny Car points standings and his 400th elimination round victory after the NHRA Nationals.

But Hight, who turned 48 on Sunday, wanted more – much more.

A bizarre semifinal match Sunday resulted in Hight’s six-round winning streak coming to an end after an impressive weekend for him and his John Force Racing team.

Hight made the first pass in a Funny Car in NHRA history under 3.8 seconds – 3.793 seconds – in grabbing his third consecutive No. 1 qualifier. That pass, run Friday night, garnered him both ends of the national record, as the speed of 339.87 mph recorded last month in Sonoma, Calif., is the fastest in Funny Car history.

He also moved up to second place in the points standings, with one race before the Countdown to the Championship begins.

And his first-round win over Dale Creasy was the 400th of his brilliant career.

But Hight was kicking himself for double-stepping in the semifinals, which eventually cost him a victory over Tommy Johnson Jr.

“It’s business as usual with this car lately,” Hight said. “I just screwed up. I did leave too soon, but I held the brake. I didn’t let go of the brake, so it didn’t go through the beams. I didn’t know that – I thought I red-lit.

“There’s a big yellow thing on the wall down there, and I looked and saw it and thought it was his win light on.”

Johnson struck the tires and started to pedal his car, while Hight thought the race was already over.

“Long Tree, and my foot moved,” Hight said. “I’ve got to do better. I cannot let this happen again. I’ve got to pay more attention and focus.”

Johnson’s pass was 6.875 seconds at 128.60 mph, while Hight coasted to a 9.806-second run at 78.40 mph.

The semifinals came after his first- and second-round ETs were low of each round. He ran 3.850 at 331.45 mph in beating Creasy and 3.828 at 336.23 mph in beating points leader Ron Capps in the second round.

“We leave here second in points, but we also could’ve left here with 40 more points that would’ve put us closer to Capps,” Hight said. “If everything goes right, we could still go to the top. We can go around him – we have to do everything right, and they have to stumble. Going into the Countdown with a lead over everybody else is big. That’s our goal.

“We’re going to go to Indy and test, learn some more. We’re already great, but maybe we can get better.”

Hight will test the Auto Club Chevy at Lucas Oil Raceway later this week in preparation for the U.S. Nationals, the next race on the schedule, Sept. 1-4.

4-Second Reads:

  • Best Qualifying Result: 3.793 seconds/338.00 mph (Round 2, Qualified No. 1)
  • Elimination Round 1 (Left Lane): 3.850 seconds/331.45 mph, def. No. 16 Dale Creasy Jr., 4.168 seconds/258.32 mph; straight-as-an-arrow pass and onto the second round with 400th career elimination-round win; vs. Creasy – now 5-0 all-time; 2-0 this season; 1-0 at Brainerd
  • Elimination Round 2 (Quarterfinals, Left Lane): 3.828 seconds/336.23 mph, def. No. 8 Ron Capps, 3.938/304.80 mph; side-by-side pass early but Hight pulled away steadily at the finish to win first time against Capps in eight tries and claim second in points standings; vs. Capps – now 31-28 all-time; 1-5 this season; 2-0 at Brainerd
  • Elimination Round 3 (Semifinals, Left Lane): 9.806 seconds/78.40 mph, lost to No. 5 Tommy Johnson Jr., 6.875 seconds/128.60 mph; Hight thought Johnson red-lighted and slowed, while Johnson swerved back and forth and nearly hit the wall pedaling down the track; vs. Johnson – now 17-12 all-time; 3-3 this season; 1-1 at Brainerd
  • Now 401-252 (653 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds in career (.614)
  • Now 89-46 (135 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds after qualifying No. 1 (.659)
  • Now 11-11 (22 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds at Brainerd International Raceway (.500)
  • Now 28-15 (43 rounds) this season in elimination rounds (.651)
  • Funny Car Point Standings: 1. Ron Capps 1,383; 2. Robert Hight 1,247; 3. Matt Hagan 1,214; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr. 1,180; 5. Jack Beckman 1,160; 6. Courtney Force 1,012; 7. John Force 954.

John Force Racing PR/Photo Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

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