Qualified No. 6 at Charlotte, Auto Club driver Robert Hight ready for Countdown challenge

Great challenges always bring great opportunity.
Auto Club of Southern California driver Robert Hight faces a great challenge in battling for his second Funny Car championship, as the best in the sport are primed for the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series title.
But Hight has a great opportunity, too, and it starts with final eliminations for the NHRA Carolina Nationals on Sunday at zMAX Dragway.
Hight qualified No. 6 for the first race of the Countdown to the Championship – making the best pass in the final qualifying session – and will line up against another leading contender for the title in the first round Sunday.
Hight will face No. 11 qualifier Matt Hagan, who is one spot behind Hight in the Funny Car standings, in Round 1.
“We have an opportunity here to really do something,” Hight said. “To win a championship, you’re going to have to beat a lot of these guys. Just so happens, we get Hagan first round. It’s a good way to start. If you want to be a champ, you’re going to have to beat them all, and you might as well get it out of the way right at the beginning.”
Hight posted a top pass of 3.911 seconds at 302.75 mph, run during Friday’s second session. But his most impressive pass may have been in Q4, when he whistled down the track with a run of 3.953 seconds at 327.77 mph to lead all the Funny Cars for that session.
“That’s nice going into Sunday,” Hight said, “having the quickest car in the last session.”
Hagan’s best pass was 3.981 seconds at 324.12 mph. Points leader Ron Capps, who had a 20-point edge on second-place Hight after the points were reset for the Countdown, is also on Hight’s side of the ladder. Hight shaved two points off that lead – now 18 points – with the three bonus points he earned in Q4. Capps earned one bonus point.
Hight and his team have been hot, winning two races in the second half of the season and setting national records for elapsed time (3.793 seconds) and speed (339.87 mph).
“We’re ready,” Hight said. “No issues. We’re ready.”
Final eliminations are slated to begin at noon Eastern on Sunday, with Fox Sports 1 providing three hours of live coverage starting at 2:30 p.m.
4-Second Reads:
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Left Lane): 6.893 seconds/97.04 mph; smokes the tires at about 300 feet down and slow (No. 12 of session and No. 12 overall; no bonus points in session)
  • Qualifying Round 2 (Right Lane): 3.911 seconds/302.75 mph; strong run to jump up to second quickest overall through his pairing (No. 6 of session and No. 6 overall; no bonus points in session and no bonus points overall)
  • Qualifying Round 3 (Left Lane): 6.613 seconds/99.38 mph; lost traction about 330 feet down the track (No. 13 of session and No. 6 overall; no bonus points in session and no bonus points overall)
  • Qualifying Round 4 (Right Lane): 3.953 seconds/327.27 mph; couldn’t improve on Friday’s time but solid pass in heat for quickest of session (No. 1 of session and No. 6 overall; three bonus points in session and three bonus points overall)
  • This marks the first time this season and 16th time in his career Hight has qualified No. 6. The last time he qualified No. 6 came in last year’s season finale at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif.
  • Hight is looking for his third victory and final finals appearance from the No. 6 position. His previous two victories came in 2011 at Bristol, Tenn., and 2015 in Brainerd, Minn.
  • This is Hight’s first No. 6 qualifying effort at Charlotte. He owns one No. 1, which came in the 2012 Four-Wide Nationals. He has two No. 2s at Charlotte in the fall race.
  • Hight’s first-round matchup against Matt Hagan marks the first time this season and 25th time the two will compete against each other, and fifth time in the fall race at Charlotte. Hagan holds a 15-9 advantage. They two are 2-2 against each other at Charlotte.

John Force Racing PR/Photo Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

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