Auto Club driver Robert Hight qualifies No. 3 in Vegas, continues Funny Car title fight

Auto Club of Southern California driver Robert Hight continues the battle for the 2017 Funny Car championship from the No. 3 qualifying position for the NHRA Nationals on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hight snared that spot with a pass of 3.880 seconds at 329.99 mph run in the second qualifying session on Friday. Hight and his Chevrolet Camaro SS overpowered the track in three other qualifying attempts, but after the Countdown to the Championship he’s had, he’s confident in his John Force Racing team on Sunday.
“It’s a good spot, but that wasn’t our best qualifying effort ever, that’s for sure,” Hight said. “Went down the track just one time. It’s not something we’ve done in a long time. The good news is that we are going into (race day) nearly the same as we did coming into the weekend.”
Hight came into Las Vegas in second place in the points, 24 behind leader Ron Capps. Capps added one point to that lead through qualifying, indicating the title battle is still close.
And Capps’ opponent in the first round on Sunday? None other than owner/teammate John Force.
“Another Chevrolet could really help us tomorrow with John,” Hight said. “He could do some damage, and that’d be our next round. We’re really hoping John could get this thing dialed in, run like he did last night – an .85 – and take Capps out; we’d be looking really good.”
Hight, though, is by no means taking his first-round opponent for granted. Tim Wilkerson, who qualified No. 14 with a best pass of 4.029 seconds at 302.55 mph, is capable of beating anyone in Funny Car.
“We don’t have a slouch either first round – we have Tim Wilkerson – and that’s no easy draw,” Hight said. “We’ve got to go up there and make good runs, and it’s no different than any other race. We’ve got to make good runs and go rounds and win. Can’t wait for first round; it’s going to be a long night.”
Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. Pacific on Sunday. Fox Sports 1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 1 p.m. Pacific on Sunday.
4-Second Reads:
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Left Lane): 5.460 seconds/130.52 mph; strikes tires about 300 feet down (No. 14 of session and No. 14 overall; no bonus points in session)
  • Qualifying Round 2 (Right Lane): 3.880 seconds/329.99 mph; right down the groove to improve and jump into the top three (No. 3 of session and No. 3 overall; one bonus point in session and one bonus point overall)
  • Qualifying Round 3 (Right Lane): 4.951 seconds/152.73 mph; strikes tires about 400 feet down (No. 11 of session and No. 3 overall; no bonus points in session and one bonus point overall)
  • Qualifying Round 4 (Left Lane): 9.785 seconds/85.09 mph; car goes up in smoke at the hit (No. 14 of session and No. 3 overall; no bonus points in session and one bonus point overall)
  • This is the third race this season and 40th race of his career Hight has qualified No. 3. He last qualified No. 3 at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., a race which he won in July.
  • This is the seventh time Hight has qualified No. 3 at Las Vegas. Of the previous six times, Hight has three of those races. Those three wins account for five of his Vegas victories.
  • Hight has nine victories in 12 finals appearances from the No. 3 position.
  • Hight’s first-round matchup against Tim Wilkerson marks the 42nd time the two will face each other in elimination-round competition. Hight holds a 22-19 advantage in the previous 41 matchups, including a 2-2 mark in 2017 and 2-0 record at Las Vegas. Hight defeated Wilkerson in the first round of the Las Vegas race this past April.

John Force Racing PR/Photo Ron Lewis Photography

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