Funny Car points leader Robert Hight gunning for 340 mph with Auto Club Chevrolet in Reading

What does Robert Hight do for an encore?
How about 340 miles per hour?
Hight, driver of the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, won the first race of the Countdown to the Championship last weekend in Charlotte, taking over the Funny Car points lead in the process.
Now, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Maple Grove Raceway for the NHRA Nationals this weekend in Round 2 of the championship-determining segment of the season.
And, in addition, to wanting to build on his 44-point lead in the Funny Car standings, Hight has another number in mind.
He already holds the national record for elapsed time (3.793 seconds) and speed (339.87 mph) and was the first Funny Car driver in the 3.7-second range. But Hight would love to add to his legacy by being the first to top 340 mph.
“I look forward to it, because you know that elusive 340 mph run is out there,” Hight said. “I know we can get it. We’ve made the first part of a run, and different parts of the second half of a run. If you put them together, it’ll run over 340. You just have to have the conditions.
“It’d be cool to get that barrier. We were the first in the 3.70s this year, so to be the first in the 340s, that’s one that will stick for a long, long time. Maple Grove is a perfect place to do that.”
If Hight were to go faster than 340 mph this weekend, he’d do it in the 300th race of his career. He started driving at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., in 2005, and his piled up some impressive numbers since.
Hight has 40 victories, 62 final-round appearances and 54 No. 1 qualifiers in 299 races – and won the 2009 Funny Car championship.
Hight’s performance prowess this season began when John Force Racing team owner John Force decided to move crew chief Jimmy Prock and co-crew chief Chris Cunningham to Hight’s Auto Club team in March. Prock, still adjusting to JFR’s six-disc clutch, took a few races to get rolling, but Hight has been spectacular since.
He’s won three of the last six races and grabbed five No. 1 qualifiers since the beginning of June. Hight had qualified third or better in the last 11 races, but that streak was snapped by a No. 6 starting spot in Charlotte – not that it stopped Hight.
“We’ve had a great race car over the last 15 races – in hot or cold conditions,” Hight said. “We’ve been collecting a lot of those little bonus points along the way, and I think that’s what you’re going to have to do in this Countdown. It’s almost impossible to have six great races, so if you have one bad one but collect a lot of qualifying points, that can make up for a bad race.”
Two qualifying rounds each are scheduled for Friday (2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. Eastern) and Saturday (1:30 and 4), with final eliminations slated for noon on Sunday.
Fox Sports 1 will television one hour of qualifying on Friday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern (live) and Sunday at 2 a.m. FS1 will broadcast three hours of live coverage on Sunday at 2 p.m.
4-Second Reads:
  • Robert Hight has competed in 12 races at Maple Grove Raceway, and has qualified for every race since 2005, his rookie season.
  • Hight has one victory at Reading – winning in 2011, defeating Johnny Gray in the finals. Overall, he has two finals appearances.
  • Hight is 10-11 all-time in 21 elimination rounds at Reading.
  • Hight has qualified No. 1 once at Reading – in 2015. His qualifying run was the second largest margin of time between a top qualifier and No. 2 qualifier, as he was nearly three tenths of a second quicker than the second-best qualifier.
  • Hight is 5-7 in 12 first-round elimination matchups at Reading.
  • Hight’s 40 victories are the fourth most in Funny Car history, behind John Force (148); Ron Capps (55); and Tony Pedregon (43). He is tied with pro stock driver Kurt Johnson; former pro stock driver Mike Edwards; and current pro stock motorcycle rider Eddie Krawiec for 19th on the all-time professional victories list.
  • Hight recorded his 400th elimination-round win Aug. 20 at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. His 406 round wins are 23rd all-time in NHRA’s professional categories and sixth all-time in Funny Car. He is 14 round wins behind Jim Yates (pro stock) for 22nd all-time.
  • Hight has been the No. 1 qualifier five times this season, and four times in the last seven races. 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. Hight is also two No. 1s behind Joe Amato and Mike Edwards for a tie for ninth all-time.
  • In 2017, Hight has three victories, a 33-16 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 eight 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 in July 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 five final rounds this season and 62 in his career.
  • Hight has competed in 161 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. It is also tied for the eighth longest active streak, also with Kalitta.
  • Most recent NHRA victory – 2017 NHRA Carolina Nationals in Concord, N.C.
  • Most recent No. 1 qualifying effort – 2017 NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.
  • Best time/speed at Reading – 3.922 seconds (2015 Q); 329.34 mph (2015 Q)
  • 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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