For the third time overall, and second consecutive, Robert Hight won the NHRA Arizona Nationals Funny Car championship. Driving the Flav-R-Pac / Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS, Hight earned his 62nd career victory Sunday at the final NHRA national event to be hosted at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Austin Prock with Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist and Brittany Force with the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy Chevrolet Top Fuel dragsters had quarterfinal finishes while John Force in the BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevy had a first-round exit.
It was the first win for Robert Hight’s newly configured crew which is now headed by Jimmy Prock and co-assistant crew chiefs Thomas Prock, Jimmy’s son, and Nate Hildahl, a long-time crew member of the three-time championship team. It was also Hight’s first win not dawning AAA / Auto Club of Southern California as his primary sponsor. Though he’ll be back in familiar colors at next weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California.
En route to his 97th final round appearance, Robert Hight knocked out team owner, 16-time champion John Force in his BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevy in the first round. Force would have tire smoke for only a 4.286-second pass at 219.27 mph while Hight would have a solid 3.911-second pass at 325.37 mph.
“Obviously never want to meet a teammate in a first round. Final round would be good, but at least we were guaranteed that one of us would be moving on,” Force said. “It was good for Robert, for Flav-R-Pac, Cornwell Tools, AAA, and to see the family dynamic of the Prock’s, that was special. Luckily this BlueDEF / PEAK Chevy can just regroup and get back after it next weekend in Pomona.”
Continuing the defense of his event championship, Hight would match-up with No. 1 qualifier Bob Tasca III in the quarterfinals. It would be a solid-side-by-side drag race for the long-time rivals. Hight would get the job done with a 3.936-second pass at 330.07 mph over Tasca’s 3.966 at 321.88.
Hight would pick up the semifinal victory over Chad Green with a 3.900-second pass at 329.34 mph to send Green’s 3.955 at 322.96 home. With his first semifinal appearance of the year, Hight also earned a spot in the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge to be contested at In-N-Out Raceway at Pomona next weekend at the NHRA Winternatioanls.
The finals would be a battle between reigning world champion Ron Capps, the competitor Hight narrowly conceded the championship to in 2022 by three points. With lane choice, Hight and the Jimmy Prock, Thomas Prock and Nate Hildahl tuned Flav-R-Pac Funny Car laid down another impressive pass at 3.930-seconds at 328.62 mph that would be no match for Capps’ 5.534 at 136.80 after he smoked the tires.
“This whole funny ca field is stacked from top to bottom and to win one of these races you’re going to have to go through four heavy hitters. You just never give up and when you have Jimmy Prock as your crew chief you just know that you’re one run away from fixing this thing and getting back to where you need to be. He races aggressive, I don’t need to tell you that. He wants low E.T. every round and we had that today; we had four rounds where we were low ET. That’s Jimmy Prock-style racing and it makes my job easy. I just gotta go up there, stay in the gas, and keep it in my lane. Proud of these guys, they keep picking at it and getting it where they want it. You can tell when Jimmy is on to something. He has the confidence and that gives me confidence.,” Hight said. “It was kind of different without Auto Club of Southern California, I don’t even recognize myself. Flav-R-Pac, Frank Tiegs stepped up and bought us. It’s amazing to get the win with them here. I’ve tried to give Frank the trophy in the past when I’ve when he was here and he always says ‘no.’ So this time this trophy is going to his wife. She’ll take it.”
Entering the day from the No. 3 qualifying spot, Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain dragster had an unplanned solo run in the first round of eliminations. Jim Maroney broke at the starting line and wasn’t able to take the tree, allowing Prock to get the first round with a 6.455-second pass at 96.71 mph after smoking the tires mid-track. In a solid side-by-side drag race, Prock would come up short in the second round with a 3.768 pass at 327.59 to Steve Torrence’s 3.737 at 331.85.
“Not exactly the day we wanted for our team, but we did make a solid pass in the second round. We just came up a taste short at .008-seconds at the finish line. I did not do my typical job on the starting line and I let my team know they can put this one on me. I will continue to work on my craft to make sure we can win those close races,” Prock said. “On the other hand, it was amazing to watch that Flav-R-Pac Funny Car get their first win of the season with my brother Thomas and good Friend Nate Hildahl getting their first wins as assistant crew chiefs. I’ve had the pleasure of working with both and I know they are the future of this sport.”
Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy Chevy dragster picked up the first-round win against Josh Hart after Hart had tire smoke almost immediately. Force would go 3.682 seconds at 336.23 mph with Hart coasting to 10.780 at 59.32. In the quarterfinals, it would be Force who experienced tire smoke at the hit. The Flav-R-Pac dragster would cross the finish line at 9.864 and 73.42 while Leah Pruett had a clean run of 3.725 at 333.74.
“Final race here in Phoenix and our teammate Robert Hight in the Flav-R-Pac Funny Car got the win which was exciting. Unfortunately, our team got beat in the second round, but we had a good day,” Force said. “The first round with a 3.68 so we really stepped it up from the low .70’s earlier in the weekend during qualifying. It was a big improvement. We just got lost in the second round. We will regroup and move to Pomona next.”
The John Force Racing team will continue on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series circuit with the next stop at one of their home race tracks March 31-April 2 for the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at the newly named In-N-Out Raceway at Pomona.