Make it a sweep for John Force Racing in Top Fuel and nitro Funny Car.
Robert Hight did his part by winning the 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil Sunday at Houston.
Hight, a two-time NHRA Mello Yello Series nitro Funny Car world champ (2009 and 2017) edged Matt Hagan in the final round.
Hight clocked a 3.941-second elapsed time at 310.84 mph and never trailed against Hagan’s 3.996-second effort at 311.70 mph.
The impact of the double win by him and his teammate Brittany Force in Top Fuel wasn’t lost on Hight.
“It’s funny, Brittany and I, this is the third time we have had double-ups,” Hight said. “Really the fourth if you count the championship, winning in 2017. We seem to do really well together, and it was really cool to be down there when she made the corner and I threw a bunch of Mello Yello on her car. That team is new, and to see what they have accomplished in a short amount of time is cool. Dave Grubnic and all his guys have adapted well. They have been to two finals in a row, and they are on their way.”
This was Hight’s 48th career Wally and third this season as he also was victorious in at the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., and the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. Hight remains the leader in the points standings and he has a 110-point advantage over second-place Hagan.
“I wasn’t nervous about qualifying,” said Hight, who qualified fifth at 3.908 seconds. “You believe in your team, you know they are going to get it done. What I was nervous about was the weather. The forecast didn’t look so good for Saturday. Anything can happen, rainout and we are not in. Luckily Mother Nature held out for us and we even got two runs (Saturday) and we got two points each run. Even though our backs were against the wall, my team came out swinging and made real good runs for the conditions and we got the bonus points. I’m proud of them. That’s why we have three wins already this season because they are so good. My team keeps me in check. We have been through a lot of ups and downs and I’ve never seen a more focused group of individuals and we came in here and got the job done.”
On Sunday, Hight drove his Chevy Camaro tuned by Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham past Johnnie Lindberg, reigning world champ J.R. Todd, his boss, John Force and Hagan.
“I had a tough row, Johnnie Lindberg is a tough competitor, second round J.R. Todd, he’s the current champion, and John Force, the guy’s looking for his 150th win, nobody will ever match that or even come close and then Matt Hagan in the final,” Hight said. “It was a tough day and it was kind of funny because Tiger Woods goes out and wins the Masters today and they look at him as an old man. He’s 43 years old. I guess in this sport I’m older than most of the guys I race, other than the boss, and it shows that the older guys can still get this done.”
Hight also took a moment to discuss what’s like having Jimmy Prock as his crew chief.
“I’m very fortunate, my first win came with Jimmy and most of my wins have come with Jimmy,” Hight said. “In fact, I think of all the drivers he has had I have the most wins of any driver he has been with. We were very fortunate to get him back. He comes back and we win the championship (in 2017) and the second year, we go down to the last day with a chance to win a championship. The guy is the most focused individual you will ever meet. The trailer could be on fire and I’m not kidding you, he would not look up from that computer. He would not even notice. That is how focused this guy is. He expects you to go up there and be as focused driving. I’m very fortunate, and I hope I end my career with Jimmy, and I hope it is a long time from now, but we have a lot of business to take care of and a lot more championships to win.”
This was Hight’s third career victory at the SpringNationals, with his moist recent before Sunday coming in 2014. Hight acknowledged his most recent win didn’t come easy because of the weather conditions.
“You could not have a bigger swing in conditions than we had this weekend,” Hight said. “We had hot and humid on Friday and Saturday and then it changed (Sunday) to dry air and I think we were 10 feet above sea level. If you went up there with the same tune-up you had on Friday and Saturday this thing would not make half-track, it would be burned up. My guys have a real good handle on changing conditions. This race track is really good. The Angel family did a great job on it and it was good enough to get the win.”
From NHRA statistics, Hight also became the first person to ever beat John Force at four consecutive NHRA national events.
“I know John wants me to go up there and have the same intensity when I race him as I do anybody else, but this sport is very humbling and it can also change in a hurry,” Hight said. “John could go out and beat me the next four times I face him. The Peak team is really coming around and they are running good. You saw they were the No. 1 qualifier. I hate beating the boss, but who knows maybe he will park me, and I will not go to Charlotte (N.C.) the next race, but I doubt it. It is a bummer to beat the boss. John Force has 149 wins and 16 championships because he is an intense competitor and wants it as bad as anybody else. You just know every day he’s going to the race track that’s he’s looking for 150. It’s tough. I wouldn’t be standing here today if it were for John Force.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019