INDIANAPOLIS – Is there anyone in Funny Car competition right now that has been hotter than Robert Hight? The John Force Racing driver currently sits second in the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series points standings, and has had three final round appearances over the last five events. In fact, he’s won two of them in defeating Tommy Johnson Jr. at both Denver and Seattle.
On top of that, Hight has two Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victories in Funny Car action, both in the last nine years (2008, 2013). So, with a ton of momentum, past success at Indy and experience, would you bet against Hight this weekend?
“What makes Indy special this year is points-and-a-half,” said Hight in a reference to NHRA awarding 1.5-times the points for this race. “After this, you’re into the Countdown. What you want to do is win this race and roll that momentum right into the Countdown and not look back.”
First, of course, is the U.S. Nationals, drag racing’s biggest event. And the race is even more special considering that JFR’s race shop is three miles from the famed race track.
“It’s bigger than it used to be because it’s in our hometown,” Hight said. “We’re based out of Brownsburg and we race here now. All the teams and the family is here. Our machine shop, fab shop –everybody who works at JFR is here.
“All the who’s who of drag racing will be here. You’re going to see all the big names, the legends of the sport. They’ll be here. There’s a lot of energy and excitement.”
Furthermore, with this year being the season of speed, Hight has been bad fast. He’s been the top qualifier in each of the last three races to go along with a fourth at Chicago five events ago. If you go back to Epping, he’s had five top qualifier positions and three more second fastest qualifier spots. The only time he wasn’t in the top two in the elimination ladder over the last nine events was when he was third at Denver. He’d win that race weekend anyways.
Then, at Topeka, he was third there too to give him 10 straight races of being in the top three.
He has two wins this season and 39 of his career, the 40th of his career would be a big one if it comes on Monday. To me, he’s the one everyone is trying to beat.
“Before I started driving, even as a crew member, I knew how big Indy was,” Hight said. “When you won it as a driver, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. I’m sure it’s like winning the Daytona 500 for NASCAR. I remember one Tuesday morning after the race, I met Don Garlits in the hotel, and he congratulated me and said, ‘Hey, kid, you can retire now. You won Indy.’ I’m like, ‘No way, man. I want to win it some more.’
“I’ve been in quite a few finals here and have gotten beat, and I’ve won it. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and I have won it several times together, and we’re back together.”