Hight eager to take on 4-wide race Six months ago Robert Hight was just happy to be in the Countdown to 1 as his Auto Club Ford Mustang team rolled to the starting line at zMax Dragway, the Bellagio of Drag Strips, in Concord, North Carolina. At the end of the race weekend Hight had his 12th career win and momentum that carried him to his first Full Throttle Funny Car World Championship. In that one weekend Hight moved from 10th to 3rd place in the Full Throttle point standings.
As Hight and his team get comfortable at zMax Dragway this weekend they are feeling confident, excited and ready for a new racing format that has the entire drag racing and motorsports community talking. The Inaugural Four-Wide NHRA Nationals will get underway on Friday afternoon and for the first time at an NHRA official national event competition four professional drivers will power their Motorcycles, Pro Stock cars, Top Fuel dragsters or Funny Cars down the all-concrete race track simultaneously.
While the goal will still be the same, get to the finish line first, Hight is still wondering how this race could be different from the traditional race.
“They are changing the whole tree around. I get into Charlotte on Wednesday and on Thursday the NHRA wants us on the starting line with our car. They have two different versions of the tree for us to look at. We have to get out there and make sure that we can see out of this 2010 Ford Mustang and see what we need to see. I think there is one (Christmas Tree) that has stacked bulbs and one that has the bulbs all in a row,” said Hight. “You just have to adapt and stand on the gas first. I was doing a pretty good job of that (in Gainesville). I am actually looking forward to getting back on the track. A few racers came over and wanted to know what we had done to my Auto Club Ford Mustang to get it to react so well. We are getting them thinking which is good.”
Hight’s competitors have been thinking about him most of the off season since his dramatic charge through the ranks of the Countdown to 1 qualifiers in 2009. Hight won three of the six Countdown races and captured his first title and the 16th for John Force Racing in 20 seasons. For the former crewman it was more than a dream come true and the realization that he is now the champ is still sinking in.
“I went to Homestead, Florida for the last NASCAR race of the season last year and there were fans yelling congratulations champ and I thought they were yelling at John(Force). It was cool to hear. A few weeks ago John and I went to Bakersfield for the March Meet and people were congratulating me a lot and yelling way to go champ. I loved spending time with the fans. This (Charlotte) is where my season turned around. It will be awesome. There were fans (in Gainesville, Fla.) that were at Charlotte last year. So many people brought me pictures from last year. I signed a ton and we’ll get to see a lot of those same people (this weekend). It looked like NHRA had a great turnout for the Gatornationals and I think the Four Wide race will bring even more people out to the track. I am really looking forward to all that.”
Hight will be looking to try and become the first driver to repeat as winner at zMax Dragway. There have been eight different professional winners during the two Fall national events held at the track.
In Gainesville, Fla., at the famed Gatornationals Hight was looking to collect his first win of the season when his Auto Club Mustang smoked the tires in a second round match-up with eventual finalist Bob Tasca III. It was a disappointing end to the day but Hight knows that that problem is correctible and he can begin to make some positive moves in North Carolina this weekend.
“We had to switch motors (in Gainesville) and they were just a little different. We scuffed a few pistons. We’ll figure it out. If we would have had our stuff together we could have run 4.04 or 4.03 easily. We haven’t hurt this much stuff in a long time. In the second round we just smoked the tires. It was just one of those deals. We’ll move on to the next one,” said Hight. “We’ll learn from it and get better. I am excited to go to the next race and race four wide in Charlotte. It doesn’t matter if you are racing one, two or three cars you just have to get there first. We haven’t been doing that yet but we’ll get her back.”
Hight is currently tied for 5th in the Full Throttle Funny Car point standings with Matt Hagan.