Bristol Dragway is known around the country as Thunder Valley and 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion Robert Hight wants to bring his own brand of thunder to the historic race track this weekend.
Hight has already posted some impressive personal records in 2010 including three wins in a row, leading the Full Throttle points and currently having a three race streak of No. 1 qualifiers to his credit. For Hight the season is not about records it is about maintaining a level of domination that he did not have in 2009.
“Last season we struggled. I didn’t qualify in Bristol and that hurt. The year before I was one round away from going to the final and then to not qualify last year hurt us. We kept struggling all last season until we started turning it around before Indy. This year I want to dominate all season and we have been running great lately,” said Hight, a four time finalist in 2010.
Hight’s secret weapon …
“I mentioned in Englishtown that we are going to working on a new clutch package for the rest of the season but that does not mean we are going to quit shooting for the top spot in qualifying. Those qualifying bonus points mean a lot and we learned a lot in Englishtown as far as tuning on this new clutch,” added Hight.
With his latest No. 1 qualifying effort at the NHRA SuperNationals Hight has 37 career No. 1s placing him fourth all-time for the Funny Car category tied with Cruz and Tony Pedregon. For the first time in his five-and-a-half year pro career, Hight has started his Auto Club Ford Mustang from the front of the pack in three consecutive races. He is the first to accomplish that feat since Mike Ashley started No. 1 at Las Vegas, Atlanta and St. Louis (Madison, Ill.) in 2007.
Hight would join extremely select company if he can add one more this week. The last Funny Car driver to qualify No. 1 in four consecutive races was Cruz Pedregon, who started No. 1 in successive 1998 events at Dallas, Englishtown, Joliet, Ill., and Columbus, Ohio.
“I have been very lucky to have had a great car my whole career. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock and my crew do an awesome job every race. Even when we were struggling last year I never lost faith in them. The deal last year was more learning how to deal with the regular season and the Countdown. There is no way we would have struggled as long as we did if there would not have been a Countdown,” said Hight.
“That is why we want to have a great set-up for the Countdown as well as dominate during the regular season. In the Countdown anything can happen so you want to be racing with your best stuff. We have enough inventory in Indy to get us through the Countdown with the set-up that won us three races in a row and got us to four straight finals.”
Heading into Bristol on the heels of an early exit in Englishtown Hight is focused on going rounds. Prior to his second round exit at the SuperNationals on Sunday his team had raced four rounds on Sunday for four straight races. That kind of round total gets Hight excited and into a groove that the former crewman can appreciate on a variety of levels.
“When you are going rounds on Sunday not only are you winning but you are getting information. Information is key right now for us. With this new clutch package we want to make as many runs as possible so that means going rounds. In that four week stretch we got our qualifying runs and then four runs on Sunday. If you compare that to where we were last year we only made five runs on Sunday over those four races; Atlanta, St Louis, Topeka and Chicago . This year we made sixteen. That is a great improvement.”
Hight will be looking for even more improvement at the 10th annual Thunder Valley Nationals this weekend. In his previous five races at Thunder Valley he has advanced out to the first round only once, a semi-final finish in 2008. His best qualifying performance was No. 2 his rookie year.