Even before the forced postponement of the Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla., this week, the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series hasn’t gone quite the way three-time Funny Car Robert Hight would have imagined or liked.
The John Force Racing President exited in Round 2 at the Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., and lost in the opening round at Phoenix. But Hight was a winner March 1 at NASCAR’s Auto Club of Southern California 400 at Fontana, Calif. Arguably, he outdebated and outcampaigned Monster Energy Cup star Joey Logano in the reprise of their Drags Or Checkered Flags social-media challenge to decide which is the best racing series in America.
In good-natured but obviously prejudiced prepared campaign ads, Hight and Logano stated their cases for the supremacy of NHRA drag racing and NASCAR stock-car racing. Hight had the edge, having defeated Logano handily in the Drags Or Checkered Flags 2016 inaugural that the Auto Club of Southern California is staging.
Running on the “Go Fast Or Go Home” platform four years ago, Hight took 52.6 percent of the vote (15,089 votes) to Logano’s 46.2 percent (12,947). So Hight is seeking re-election, and Logano has been politicking for a NASCAR victory.
Just as with the U.S. Presidential elections, the race will continue throughout the summer and into the fall. Hight’s faithful can text their “ROBERT” vote to 86792. (In the interest of fair journalism, NASCAR fans can text “JOEY” to the same number.)
Hight’s ad asserts that he will “continue to prove that going in a straight line is the smartest, fastest, and by golly the prettiest way to get from Point A to Point B.” Hight, the trap shooter who earned the nickname “Top Gun,” asked voters, “Do you pick a series where drivers talk and drive in circles? Or do you ride with a straight shooter? When you’re picking your favorite league, vote drags.”
Calling drag racing “all sizzle, no steak,” Logano was critical of the incumbent’s policies. In his campaign video, the Team Penske driver said, “Now drags have been behind the wheel for three years. And where have they taken us? Are we better off? [He shook his head.] It’s clear that Drags hasn’t delivered on empty campaign promises they made in 2016. Drag racers still drive straight. They still drive four seconds at a time.” The he mockingly (mock-mockingly) tried to pronounce N-H-R-A, indicating that NASCAR is easier to pronounce. He went on to say that “since 2016, I have been working tirelessly to prove myself and the Checkred Flags agenda is [sic] worthy of your vote, winning many races and championships.”
For the record, since their 2016 Drags Or Checkered Flags race (for the combines 2017, 2018, 2019 seasons and so far this 2020 season), Logano has recorded one championship (2018) and won nine times (10 counting the first Daytona Duel this year) and earned five pole positions.
In fewer races, Hight since 2016 has earned two championships (2017, 2019) and won 14 trophies and scored 19 No. 1 qualifiers.
Broken down by the years, Hight has dominated:
2017 – Hight 4 victories, 8 No. 1 starts; Logano 1 victory, 2 No. 1 starts
2018 – Hight 4 victories, 3 No. 1 starts; Logano 3 victories, 1 No. 1 start
2019 – Hight 6 victories, 8 No. 1 starts; Logano 2 victories, 2 No. 1 starts
This year Logano has won twice (plus the first Duel at Daytona) in four events. Hight is has had just two races but is seeking his first victory.
Moreover, in 2018, Hight finished second in the standings to JR Todd, but he won two of the six Countdown races toward the end of the season and drove during five of those six with a broken collarbone.
Overall, Logano has 25 victories. Hight has 51, more than twice as many.
Logano claimed, “It’s time to step up and build a faster nation for everyone. Our nation has a chance for a restart,” encouraging “endurance to go miles, not feet.”
To put performance in perspective, again in the pursuit of unbiased reporting, one cylinder of the eight cylinders of Hight’s Funny Car produces 750 horsepower, equaling the entire horsepower output of Logano’s NASCAR engine. Just sayin’ . . . Never mind fuel consumption. What consumption in drag racing? As Dean Skuza, one of Hight’s former competitors, said, “We’re not like NASCAR. We don’t conserve tires. We don’t conserve fuel. We don’t conserve nothin’! What’s more American than that?!”
Jamie Little, NASCAR pit reporter for FOX, moderated their recent debate at Fontana, and she listened as the racers traded insults regarding each other’s form of motorsports.
Logano said he and his NASCAR mates are “in it for the long haul.” Hight was proud of the fact his car can get the job done in about three seconds. Logano shot back, “Every woman knows that’s great.”
Hight landed some solid jabs, too.
“Stage racing – what is that? Is that like a rest stop? Do you get out and pee?” he asked. And he poked team owner Roger Penske: “Is he cheap? Is that why they have to conserve fuel? In drag racing, we all know that the more fuel you put in something, the more horsepower it makes, and the faster it goes. And pit stop? They call that a pit stop? Twelve seconds? In a real pit stop, they rebuild the engines, the clutch, and everything and we’re back up there, running.” When Logano countered with “Maybe our team’s able to build a car that lasts longer than yours,” Hight said, “That’s because they have no horsepower. It takes 20 NASCAR cars to equal one like my car – 11,000 horsepower.”
Hight invited Ford driver Logano to try his Auto Club Chevy Camaro sometime: “When he gets up to 330 miles an hour, I want him to turn left and see how that goes.” Logano wisecracked, “I’ll pull your little parachute.” Hight said, “You’ll need it.”
The drag racer joked about Logano’s firesuit, calling it “a pair of pajamas with logos on it.”
Each closed the debate by telling what they like about the other’s sport. Hight said he’s “a big NASCAR fan” who enjoys the technological side of it. Logano said of drag racing, “I like the community, that you all get along.”
Actually, Hight and Logano get along aside from this social-media campaign. But they want to win at everything, both of them, whether it’s in a race car or playing checkers or you-name-it. And Hight is hoping that, like in the previous election, Drags beats Checkered Flags.