Track records propel AAA Missouri driver Robert Hight to No. 1 spot at Gateway

Robert Hight and his AAA Missouri team have set the bar so high in Funny Car that when he doesn’t reach record heights, many are disappointed.
But Hight isn’t.
Hight set the Gateway Motorsports Park track record for elapsed time and speed during qualifying Friday for the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals to snare the provisional No 1 spot in Funny Car.
No, he didn’t top the magical 340 mph mark, but that’s OK.
“There’s so many components on these nitro cars that have to work in sync with each other and everything be perfect to put a number like that on the board,” Hight said. “Tonight, our clutch didn’t wear like it was supposed to; it put a cylinder out down track. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock came back and said, ‘I guess we ought to be happy.’ When you don’t make a perfect run and you’re still No. 1, that shows we’re doing something.”
Hight’s pass of 3.830 seconds at 333.91 mph in the second qualifying session knocked boss John Force off the No. 1 perch and took the Gateway track record from Force, who set the mark one pairing before Hight. Hight had broken the track ET and speed record in Q1 (3.845 seconds at 338.60 mph), but only the speed record held through Q2.
“It’s fun to sit back and watch my team work, and you know what they’re up against when the conditions are like this,” Hight said. “They’re focused on what they’re doing, and they’re trying to make record runs. We were pushing it tonight to run better than .83 and try to run 340 mph because the conditions were out there. But it didn’t work out.”
What did work out was a sweep of the bonus points, as Hight was quickest in each session to snare six points. He came in the race trailing leader Ron Capps by eight points – and knocked three points off that lead.
“Six more points today,” Hight said. “We were low each session. Forget about records and everything else – that’s what we’re here for. We’re here for points. Great to do this on front of a great crowd, but we’re also representing AAA Missouri here this weekend. They’re the title sponsor.
“A lot of work to do tomorrow. AAA has me busy on their stage – hope the fans come over. We’re going to do Nitro School, and then a Q&A with all the John Force Racing drivers. Then Track Walk on Sunday morning – and hopefully winner’s circle Sunday night.”
Courtney Force, in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS, earned the No. 6 position with a second-round pass of 3.877 seconds at 329.50 mph, both track-bests for the Yorba Linda driver. Her sister, Monster Energy dragster driver Brittany Force, earned the No. 5 position in the Top Fuel class, with a first-round pass of 3.714 seconds at 329.58 mph.
Qualifying continues Saturday, with two rounds at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Central. Eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. Central on Sunday.
John Force Racing PR/Photo  Ron Lewis Photography
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