St. Louis: John Force Racing final report
HIGHT WINS AAA INSURANCE MIDWEST NATIONALS MADISON, IL --- 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight was looking for a turn-around weekend at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals and he delivered. On Wednesday Hight talked about ...
HIGHT WINS AAA INSURANCE MIDWEST NATIONALS
MADISON, IL --- 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight was looking for a turn-around weekend at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals and he delivered. On Wednesday Hight talked about the importance of performing well at his sponsor's race to the St. Louis media members. Later that day he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves at Busch Stadium. Today he had his Mustang fastball working as he cruised to his 15th career victory defeating "Fast" Jack Beckman in the final round at Gateway International Raceway.
"This has been an unbelievable week. I've had a lot of fun here in St. Louis, but you know timing is everything. I've always wanted to come here to St. Louis and win and give a trophy to the AAA of Missouri because those people have been so supportive of the Gateway people and John Force Racing all along. I've never had much luck here. But to go to the St. Louis Cardinals game and throw out the first pitch (on Wednesday) just started off the week right," said an excited Hight.
The win came in Hight's 27th career final and his 15th victory moved him to 11th place all-time for Funny Car wins tied with the late legendary Al Hofmann. It was Hight's 5th win from the bottom half of the field. He entered today's eliminations as the No. 9 qualifier. He defeated Dale Creasy Jr., then team leader John Force, and Ron Capps before meeting Beckman in the final.
This was Hight's third win in a row in a final versus Jack Beckman. He defeated him twice (Dallas and Las Vegas2) in the 2009 Countdown en route to his first Full Throttle Funny Car championship. He has a 4-1 final round record versus Beckman.
John Force Racing has now collected four wins in the first seven races of 2010. Team leader John Force has three victories (Pomona1, Charlotte, and Las Vegas1). Hight moved from 9th to 6th in the Full Throttle Funny Car point standings with the win.
"We changed almost everything last night because what we had wasn't working. We went back to some of the stuff we were running 2-3 years ago. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) got his dad to make us up some pistons like we used to run them. We changed piston rings and pistons and it started to run. All year our car has been set up just like John's, but there are some differences and we just couldn't make it work for us," said Hight.
"We needed to get up to the top with John because I don't think anyone will be able to win from No. 10 like we did last year. The Funny Car class is just too good. We want to finish as high as we can to give us the best shot possible at repeating as champion. This is a start, but we still have a lot of work to do."
"I can usually tell how Jimmy feels and when we went up against John in the second round, I kind of thought we'd have something for him. That was the run of the day to run 4.16 in the lane nobody wanted in the heat of the day. That got out confidence back and it just built from there," said Hight.
Once again it was crew chief Jimmy Prock and the Auto Club crew going the extra mile to get another win for John Force Racing. The team worked late into the night getting Hight's Ford Mustang race ready and when the chips were down the Auto Club team rose to the occasion.
"We didn't get much sleep. We worked all night to change it over. I overdid it a little (on the tune-up) first round, but he (first round foe Dale Creasy Jr.) put me over on the right side and I was worried about the bumps. It dropped a hole but finally I got the clutch right and it just ran right over the bumps. We got up against Force second round and I said, "I'm tuning this thing up." After first round, we pretty much kicked their ass," said Prock in his pit at the end of the day.
The match-up between Force and Hight could have gone either way. Force's crew chief triumvirate of Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly and Mike Neff knew they had a solid combination for the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. It was just a matter of what kind of magic would Prock and the Auto Club team come up with. One thing Force was certain of was he was going to have to bring a championship caliber performance to the starting line to defeat Hight.
"It is easy now (to race Robert or Ashley) and you have to get up to race anyone. At the end of the day Robert said lets go get them and we did. I am surprised that Jimmy ran 4.16. We put here right back to run 4.20 and it ran exactly what we called. We didn't think Jimmy could get down that lane and run any better than a 4.20. Then he ran 4.16. Now you can run in both lanes. That will make them dangerous," said Force.
Ashley Force Hood made two good runs on Sunday unfortunately her second run was a tick off the pace opponent Bob Tasca III brought to the starting line. Force Hood's 4.22 second run would have won a lot of rounds but Tasca had a 4.21 second run up his sleeve. The Castrol GTX team moved Tasca's Motorcraft Shelby Mustang into the previously assumed "tricky" right lane.
"Tasca ran really well especially out of that right lane. Robert also ran really good over there. The lanes must have evened up. It was close but not quite enough. It was pretty warm today and we ran pretty well. That gives you confidence as we move into the hotter races. I thought for sure I would be pedaling my mustang on that run but it ran right on down the track. We'll be able to use that info for races down the road. Places like Atlanta and Topeka where it can get really hot. We'll try again at the next race," said Force Hood.
John Force Racing will leave St. Louis with three drivers in the top six in Full Throttle points.
Gateway Int'l Raceway event notes
St. Louis: Terry McMillen final report