With a semifinal finish, Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS team led the way for the John Force Racing team Sunday at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. His three teammates, John Force in the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevy Camaro SS, Brittany Force in the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy dragster, and Austin Prock in the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster had first-round exits.
Coming off a victory in the Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Callout with an $80,000 purse, Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools team, who were also the No.1 qualifiers, opened up race day against Paul Lee. Hight would have a solid 3.889-second pass at 329.67 mph to Lee’s 4.119 at 258.31 sending the Cornwell Tools Chevy into the second round to face veteran racer/team owner Tim Wilkerson. Hight would take the round win with a 3.952 pass at 318.99 after Wilkerson smoked the tires to a 5.032 at 152.37.
The quarterfinal win set Hight up for a match-up against the reigning world champion and the first opponent he beat in the All-Star Callout, Ron Capps. The Cornwell Tools Chevy would lose traction early in the semifinal run ending Hight’s day with a 5.580-second pass at 138.43 that was bettered by Capps’ 4.029 at 323.50.
“Not a bad weekend for this Cornwell Tools Chevy. Definitely not the results we wanted. We wanted that win, wanted to double up, but we’re really coming around.” Hight said. “We are coming together at the right time and it’s definitely different than last year when we came in here with a huge lead and then Tuesday morning you woke up and looked at NHRA.com and you saw that you had nothing. It was all gone, down the toilet. So, I’m glad that’s happening to somebody else this year.”
After a strong qualifying performance where she started race day in the No. 2 spot and earned nine bonus points, Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac team had a monster matchup with three-time world champion and eventual event winner Antron Brown in the first round. Force was gaining on Brown until she had an engine explosion at the 660-foot mark. Force would cross the line with a 3.870-second pass at 244.21 mph getting bettered by Brown’s 3.749 at 320.05.
“This was really disappointing. This is Indy, the biggest race of our season and the last race before the points reset and we start over again for the Countdown. This was our best shot to get ahead of the game and we got beat first round. It’s unfortunate,” Force said. “I felt like we were out ahead. I didn’t see Antron (Brown) next to me, and then I just felt everything rock me forward and I had no power. There was no momentum, and I was just coasting and I saw Antron get to that stripe first. Congratulations to that team. But this Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy team – we’re not done. We still have a shot at this thing and we’re going to chase it down for the last six.”
Austin Prock and the Montana Brand team started race day from No. 11 to lineup with Leah Pruett in the first round. Prock and Pruett would leave the line nearly identically, but Prock would come up short at the finish line with a 3.777-second run at 319.29 mph to Pruett’s 3.747 at 333.33.
“Rough way to end the weekend here at the U.S. Nationals. This Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team has been working hard. We’ve had some changes on the personnel side, but we’re pulling it together. If we do what we did last year, sitting where we’re sitting isn’t a bad thing. We just need to keep our heads down and put the work in.”
John Force and the PEAK Chevy already had a victory coming into race day Monday after they picked up a win in the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday that earned them $15,000 and championship bonus points. Their efforts in the Challenge. Qualified 12th, Force would race against familiar foe Cruz Pedregon in the first round. Force and the PEAK Camaro didn’t have enough to reach the finish line first with a 3.998-second pass at 318.69 mph to Pedregon’s 3.962 at 324.36.
“Well, long weekend, long weekend for everybody. I’m disappointed, it was a great drag race, great match-up with Cruz, love running him. Just wish it had gone my way. We did win the Mission Foods deal, and that was cool, so that’s something,” Force said. “Time to reset, get ready for the Countdown to the Championship and see what we can do.”
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series starts its Countdown to the Championship, a six-race playoffs, with the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway at Reading Pennsylvania September 14-16.