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Hight wins first Funny Car title

Former JFR Crew Member Wins 16th World Title for John Force
Sunday, November 15, 2009

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Robert Hight and his Ford Mustang
Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang team fulfilled a dream that ten years ago was beyond his comprehension when he won the 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car World Championship today at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. For the former John Force Racing crew member clinching the championship on Saturday night with a No. 3 qualifying performance was more than a huge achievement for Hight. For the 16th time in twenty years the Funny Car championship will be held by a team racing for Yorba Linda, Calif., based John Force Racing.

“It is unbelievable. It makes it more special when you consider how we got into the Countdown. We were 12th going into Indy. Jimmy Prock just got this thing fixed. It is all about timing. He got it all right at the right time. It could not have happened better,” said Hight. “You always believe in your team. I believed that they would turn it around. We worked hard. I tell you what you don’t dream like this. This is absolutely amazing what we have done in the last two months. It is all about believing in your team.”

Hight’s name will join a list of Funny Car champions that previously was limited to Force, Pedregon and Scelzi. Throughout the ‘90s John Force reigned supreme in the Funny Car class winning nine of ten championships in the decade. Force also picked up titles in 2000-02, 2004 and 2006. The brothers Pedregon, Cruz and Tony, won four Funny Car titles; 1992 and 2008 for Cruz and 2003 and 2007 for Tony. Three-time Top Fuel World Champion Gary Scelzi won his lone Funny Car title in 2005.

“I owe a lot to Roger Primm. He is the guy that got me started in drag racing. I wanted to do it so long. He finally gave me the shot. He gave me a job working on his car and that is how I got to meet the John Force Racing group. This is all I wanted to do.”

“Once I saw these cars run and watched drag racing I used to follow it on TNN when it was two weeks tape delayed. I finally got to go to a race in Sacramento when I was going to college. I saw two Funny Cars run. It was John force and Jim Dunn at a match race,” said Hight. “When I saw those cars run I knew this is what I wanted to do. I didn’t think I would ever get here. I never thought I would really get to drive. I wanted to learn about these cars. I was a mechanic. This is where I wanted to be. This is what I wanted to do. These machines are unbelievable. I still feel that way.”

As the No. 10 qualifier for the Countdown to 1 Hight dominated from the first race winning in Charlotte then grabbing the points lead for good with a win in Dallas. He grabbed two No. 1 qualifiers, never lost in the first round and picked up a critical win in Las Vegas building a 105 point lead over his sister-in-law and teammate Ashley Force Hood entering the final race of the season.

He added to that lead by picking up six additional qualifying bonus points at the 45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals. Throughout the Countdown to 1 Hight’s Auto Club Ford was dominant in qualifying and on race day. They picked up a class leading twenty nine of the possible seventy-two qualifying bonus points and grabbed three wins heading into tomorrow’s elimination rounds. 

For the 14-time tour winner, Saturday’s result ended five years of title frustration. Hight was championship runner-up in 2006 and 2007. He has never finished outside the Top Five in his five year career.

For crew chief Jimmy Prock, the championship ended a drought of even longer duration. In his rookie year as a crew chief Prock missed the 1992 Top Fuel title with driver Cory McClenathan by a mere nine points.

“It is starting to sink in now that we managed to do it. Yeah, it is starting to sink in. Probably more after this race is over. We still have a race to run tomorrow and we are going to try and win it. I have really enjoyed racing with Robert. He knows so much about the cars and we feed off of one another. We talk stuff around and we make each other think. I know that is why we have been able to be successful,” said crew chief Jimmy Prock.   

“I was watching (him) go down the track and I knew it was done when we got that run in. I guess when it was finally over and he got down there safe I was happy.”

Throughout a tumultuous 2009 season Hight and Prock supported each other never losing the faith that their driving and tuning skills could get them the coveted title. As the sun set on Auto Club Raceway Hight knew that while one championship dream was coming true another was beginning.

“I can’t wait for next year. I can’t wait to work with my team all winter and get ready for next year. I think my schedule coming up will get a little busier than I am used to and I might have to cut back on working on them but that is a good problem to have,” said Hight. “If Jimmy and I stay together with this team Coil and Force might have to look out. We only have 14 more (championships) to catch them. Hopefully we can do that. I am going to enjoy this one right now.”

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