AAA Texas driver Robert Hight inches closer to points lead with AAA Texas FallNationals victory

As unlucky as they were Friday, Robert Hight and the AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro SS team were just as good Sunday at Texas Motorplex.
Hight – second in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series points standings – took the AAA Texas FallNationals victory, besting Jim Campbell, Alexis DeJoria and Tim Wilkerson in the opening three rounds and defending Funny Car champion and current points leader Ron Capps in the finals.
That final-round victory meant a 40-point swing either way – 20 points are awarded for each round win – and Hight closed to within 24 points of Capps with two races remaining on the circuit.
It also gave him his second Countdown to the Championship victory in four races, tying Capps.
With considerably cooler conditions Sunday – qualifying Friday and Saturday was held in 80- and 90-degree ambient temperatures versus mid-60s Sunday morning – Hight felt records would be broken. He almost had to bite his tongue after the first few Funny Car pairings had trouble.
“In the track walk, I was saying there’s going to be track records and maybe national records because of the conditions we had today,” Hight said. “Then you see the first three pairs of Funny Cars go up in smoke. You have (co-crew chiefs) Jimmy Prock, Chris Cunningham and these guys in your corner, and it gives you a lot of confidence.”
The fourth pairing, with No. 16 qualifier Campbell in the other lane, Hight pushed to break both ends of the track record with a pass of 3.828 seconds at 338.60 mph. It tied the seventh quickest pass of Hight’s career and matched the third fastest run of his career – both of which were set earlier this season. It also showed the team wasn’t taking Campbell lightly; the fellow Californian put together a 4.053-second pass of 318.54 mph, which would have beaten any other competitor to that point.
“That was a monster run,” Hight said. “The big deal was we got the win.”
Hight continued his strong series of runs in the second round, besting DeJoria with a run of 3.865 seconds at 331.77 mph, which was the slowest of Sunday’s four runs in terms of speed. DeJoria put together a respectable 3.945-second run at 329.83 mph but couldn’t catch Hight, who led the entire way.
In the semis, Hight ended a two-race slide against Wilkerson, with a run of 3.898 seconds at 331.85 mph, another shot straight down the center and pulling away at every increment, to set up another meeting with Capps – their seventh of the season (not counting the 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in April) but only second in a final round. The win over Wilkerson was Hight’s 39th elimination-round victory this year, breaking a career-best of 38 set in 2014.
Capps got the jump, but Hight had him reeled in by 60 feet and increased his advantage throughout, winning for the fourth time this season – all in a span of 10 races.
“That was a 40-point swing,” Hight said. “Basically, we were 44 points behind going into the final. Had I lost, we would have been 64 but we turned it into 24. With two races to go, I’ll definitely take that. We needed that one. We would have been bummed leaving here more than three rounds back.”
It also marked the second time this year Hight set the No. 1 qualifying time, set event low ET and top speed and went on to win the race. Adding to that, of the five Funny Car passes set in the 3.8s on race day, Hight had four of them. All that after smoking the tires twice Friday. But Saturday, his run of 3.871 seconds netted him the No. 1 qualifying position for the third straight race.
Hight and his team now turn their attention to the NHRA Nationals on Oct. 27-29 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada.
“Anything can happen; there’s a lot of racing left,” Hight said. “We’re going to Vegas with different conditions. We make a lot of horsepower and I like our chances there. I know we can do this.”
4-Second Reads:
  • Best Qualifying Effort: 3.872 seconds/332.84 mph (Round 4, Qualified No. 1)
  • Elimination Round 1 (Left Lane): 3.871 seconds/332.84 mph (RT – .087 seconds), def. No. 16 Jim Campbell, 4.053 seconds/318.54 mph (RT – .131 seconds); set both ends of the track record in perfect pass; vs. Campbell – now 3-1 all-time; 3-1 this season; 1-0 at Dallas
  • Elimination Round 2 (Quarterfinals, Left Lane): 3.865 seconds/331.77 mph (RT – .063 seconds), def. No. 9 Alexis DeJoria, 3.945 seconds/329.83 mph (RT – .080 seconds); strong run though drifted to the right about 800 feet down; vs. DeJoria – now 6-6 all-time; 2-0 this season; 2-0 at Dallas
  • Elimination Round 3 (Semifinals, Left Lane): 3.898 seconds/331.85 mph (RT – .072 seconds), def. 5 Tim Wilkerson, 3.954 seconds/316.60 mph (RT – .140 seconds); gets a big jump and never looks back en route to win; vs. Wilkerson – now 22-19 all-time; 2-2 this season; 2-1 at Dallas
  • Elimination Round 4 (Finals, Left Lane): 3.877 seconds/332.34 mph (RT – .054 seconds), def. No. 2 Ron Capps, 3.927 seconds/329.18 mph (RT – .038 seconds); fell behind at the light but edged ahead at 60 feet and pulled away for victory with pass straight down the middle; vs. Capps – now 32-28 all-time; 2-5 this season; 1-1 at Dallas; 4-2 in final rounds
  • Now 413-255 (668 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds in career (.618)
  • Now 96-48 (144 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds after qualifying No. 1 (.667)
  • Now 19-9 (28 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds at Dallas (.679)
  • Now 40-18 (58 rounds) this season in elimination rounds (.667); sets season-best elimination-round victories, breaking previous best of 38 set in 2014
  • Funny Car Points Standings: 1. Ron Capps 2495; 2. Robert Hight 2471; 3. Courtney Force 2324; 4. Jack Beckman 2309; 5. Matt Hagan 2269; 6. John Force 2252.

John Force Racing PR/Photo Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

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