Robert Hight came out on top again this weekend at the 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway where he won for the third time this year and extended his streak of consecutive final round appearances to five.
In Sunday’s eliminations, he dismissed Bob Tasca III, Alexis DeJoria, Del Worsham and Jack Beckman to score his 32nd professional career event win, No. 229 for John Force Racing as a whole.
“It was like we didn’t even show up on Friday,” Hight said. “It was horrible. On the first run it got through the clutch and wore it out and eventually smoked the tires. Second qualifying session we just totally missed it. It was weak and shook, but I didn’t lose faith in my team.
“They showed confidence and had the ‘we’ll go get ‘em Saturday’ attitude. We went out there and ran 4.07, 4.08 on Saturday to put us in the No. 4 spot.
“Then the first three rounds today ran 4.07, 4.07, 4.07. You know how hard that is to do in one of these cars? There are so many variables. It’s hard to make that many consistent runs in a row, but it shows how good my team is. They’re making just tiny changes, and at the last minute. They never act like there is a fire drill or anything is out of the ordinary, they just put their heads down and do their job. It’s a lot of fun right now,” said Hight.
The Auto Club driver picked up his first professional win at Houston in 2005 and since then has won more Funny Car races than anyone other driver in the category. He also scored his 299th round win today.
“It’s great to come out here and put AAA Texas on the side of the car. I’ve always felt bad, because we did get our first win here, but I’ve never been back to the final here in Houston. We haven’t done a very good job in this area. I haven’t gotten another win for them until now. To get back here and get them in the winner’s circle is huge.
“I had high expectations coming into this weekend because I got my first win here. Mike Neff- he has owned this place. When he drove and tuned his own car he was, well, just like he was today. You have high expectations, especially since we’ve been in four straight final rounds. We’ve been kind of on a roll here. It dates back to Indy,” said Hight.
This is the thirteenth race in a row that John Force Racing has had a Funny Car in the final round going back to the U.S. Nationals last season. Hight’s two final round losses this season have come at the hands from Alexis DeJoria and heading into the final round he was 1-4 versus the Patron XO Café sponsored driver.
“That win against Dejoria was huge. She’s owned me, she’s had my number. I finally got a win against her at Four-Wide, but before that I was 0-4 and I still have a losing record against her. That’s a great team. They’re running well. She qualified right with me. We were 4 and 5. You always know they’re going to be there.
“When you win one of these races, it’s an accomplishment. To have this as my third win of the year, just shows how steady my team is and, truthfully, that just puts more pressure on me because when that car goes up there and runs like it does, a bracket car, all I can do is screw it up. I have got to do my job,” said Hight.
“When you can put 4.07’s on the board in a row in the heat, that mentally wears on your competitors. Some of these Funny Car guys, they’ll roll it in there deep and make their reaction times look good. Not me. I want ET. I want my competitor to be scared and I don’t want to give lane choice away by rolling in deep. Even in the final, I didn’t roll it in. When you have confidence in yourself and in the car, there’s no need,” said Hight.
In the final round, Hight set top speed in the Funny Car category with a 314.90 mph run. Hight’s average ET on race day was a 4.069, but other team members of Hight struggled this weekend.
“Mike Neff was over helping Courtney’s guys, in fact, a lot of my guys were over there. She had a good car in first round, just spun a little down track. We all help each other. If you stood back on the starting line, I had Castrol, Castrol Edge, Traxxas, all of them behind my car. We share in the wins and it’s one big team. Don’t look for those (Traxxas) guys to struggle much longer. They’re right around the corner from doing exactly what we are.”