Three-time U.S. Nationals winner Robert Hight ready to take Auto Club Chevy to another Indy win

One victory in the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals can make a drag racer’s career.
Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car driver Robert Hight accomplished that goal in 2006, when in his second season he won the Big Go.
But Hight is far from satisfied with one U.S. Nationals title. Or with two. Or even with three. So the three-time winner wants another when drag racing’s best converge on Lucas Oil Raceway this weekend.
“Before I started driving, even as a crew member, I knew how big Indy was,” Hight said. “When you won it as a driver, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. I’m sure it’s like winning the Daytona 500 for NASCAR. I remember one Tuesday morning after the race, I met Don Garlits in the hotel, and he congratulated me and said, ‘Hey, kid, you can retire now. You won Indy.’ I’m like, ‘No way, man. I want to win it some more.’
“I’ve been in quite a few finals here and have gotten beat, and I’ve won it. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and I have won it several times together, and we’re back together.”
Hight beat Whit Bazemore in the 2006 final, and he followed that up with a win in 2008 and 2013, both over Jack Beckman. Those victories – and three other final-round appearances – have contributed to John Force Racing’s dominance at Indy, where JFR has won 12 times and went to the final every year from 2006-2015.
Plus, Hight has been to the final of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, a special non-points race run in conjunction with the U.S. Nationals, in each of the last three years.
“I’ve never won it,” Hight said. “This is the year.”
Hight’s optimism is grounded in reality, as he’s won two of the last four Funny Car races on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, all while setting the national elapsed time record (3.973 seconds) in Brainerd and the national speed record (339.87 mph) in Sonoma.
The recent hot streak has moved Hight to No. 2 in the Funny Car standings, and he has a shot at being the No. 1 seed when the Countdown to the Championship starts after Indy.
“What makes Indy special this year is points-and-a-half,” said Hight in a reference to NHRA awarding 1.5-times the points for this race. “After this, you’re into the Countdown. What you want to do is win this race and roll that momentum right into the Countdown and not look back.”
First, of course, is the U.S. Nationals, drag racing’s biggest event. And the race is even more special considering that JFR’s race shop is three miles from the famed race track.
“It’s bigger than it used to be because it’s in our hometown,” Hight said. “We’re based out of Brownsburg and we race here now. All the teams and the family is here. Our machine shop, fab shop –everybody who works at JFR is here.
“All the who’s who of drag racing will be here. You’re going to see all the big names, the legends of the sport. They’ll be here. There’s a lot of energy and excitement.”
Five qualifying sessions are scheduled for the U.S. Nationals (all times Eastern): Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. and Sunday at 12:45 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Fox Sports 1 will provide two hours of qualifying coverage (all times Eastern): Sunday at noon and 5 p.m. and two hours of live eliminations at 11 a.m. FOX will provide three hours of live eliminations at 1 p.m.
4-Second Reads:
  • Robert Hight has competed in 12 races at Indianapolis, and has qualified for every race since 2005, his rookie season.
  • Hight has three victories at Indianapolis – 2006, 2008 and 2013. Overall, he has six finals appearances (made it to the finals every season between 2006 and 2009).
  • Hight is 23-9 all-time in 32 elimination rounds at Indianapolis. His .719 winning percentage at Indianapolis is the second highest at any track of his career, following a .763 winning percentage at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo.
  • Hight has qualified No. 1 once at Indianapolis – in 2009. Overall, he has qualified in the top half of the bracket every year but once – in 2014.
  • Hight is 8-4 in 12 first-round elimination matchups at Indianapolis.
  • Hight’s 39 victories are the fourth most in Funny Car history, behind John Force (148); Ron Capps (55); and Tony Pedregon (43). He is tied with Del Worsham for 21st on the all-time professional victories list; Worsham has 31 wins in Funny Car and eight in Top Fuel.
  • Hight recorded his 400th elimination-round win Aug. 20 at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. His 401 round wins are 23rd all-time in NHRA’s professional categories.
  • Hight has been the No. 1 qualifier five times this season, and four times in the last four races (including the last three). His 54 No. 1s are third most in Funny Car history, and 11th across all professional categories. Only Force (155) and Cruz Pedregon (61) have more in the category.
  • In 2017, Hight has two victories, a 28-15 record in elimination rounds, and five No. 1 qualifiers. He holds a season-best 38 elimination-round wins in a season, in 2014. He has surpassed 30 elimination-round wins in a season seven times in 12 seasons.
  • Hight has set the fastest event speed a career-best 10 times this season, which exceeds his previous season-best of seven set in his rookie season, 2005. He now has 51 fastest event speeds in his career, the 50th coming last month at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, where he set the NHRA record at 339.87 mph.
  • Hight now holds six track records for elapsed time (five of which have been set this season) and nine track records for speed (all of which have been set this season).
  • Hight has four final rounds this season and 61 in his career.
  • Hight has competed in 159 consecutive races, tied for 17th all-time with Doug Kalitta, dating back to the second race at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., in 2010.
  • Hight’s most recent NHRA victory – 2017 Northwest Nationals in Kent, Wash.
  • Hight’s most recent No. 1 qualifying effort – 2017 NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.
  • Hight’s best time/speed at Indianapolis – 3.881 seconds (2016 Q1); 330.31 mph (2016 Q1)
  • Hight’s best time/speed of career – 3.793 seconds (2017 Brainerd Q2; quickest elapsed time in Funny Car history); 339.87 mph (2017 Sonoma Q2; fastest speed in NHRA history)

John Force Racing PR/Photo Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

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