ROBERT HIGHT STARTS COUNTDOWN ON RIGHT FOOT WITH WIN IN MAPLE GROVE
There’s no better time in the NHRA season to get things rolling in the right direction, and that’s exactly what nitro Funny Car driver Robert Hight did Monday.
Hight powered his Cornwell Tools Chevy/AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS to win at the rain-delayed Pep Boys Nationals in Reading, Pa. Hight clocked a 3.854-second run at 330.39 mph to defeat Chad Green’s 3.928-second lap at 327.27 mph in the finals.
“Leaving Brainerd, I feel we kind of got this car back in order and where it needed to be, but really you got to give credit to NHRA,” Hight said of the Aug. 20 race in Minnesota. “Those guys worked so hard this weekend to give us a racetrack, and you're fighting Mother Nature. That's pretty tough to do, but they did a great job. I mean, it was as good as you could get, and it is tricky when it's like that. It wants to shake, okay? If you don't get after it's going to shake and come loose, in the final it rattled. It got my attention. I'm like, ‘Oh, no.’ And, anyway, it went through it and made a great run. But NHRA deserves, the Safety Safari deserves a big pat on the back for all the hard work this weekend. They've got a truck on down the road to Charlotte and get ready and do it again.
“Our car is running good at the right time. And it's hard to get too excited about this. We did exactly what we needed to do this weekend, but it's hard to get too excited because we came in here last year and won here and didn't get it done in the end. So, we got to stay focused, and we got to move on to Charlotte, put this one behind us. Hopefully, we learned some things that'll help us in Charlotte. Haven't even looked at the weather or what that's going to be. And keep our heads down because it's not getting any easier.”
The second race in the six-race Countdown to the Championship is the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 22-24 in Charlotte, N.C. This was Hight’s 64th career win and third this season and second in a row at Maple Grove Raceway.
“Well, the conditions are always good. Great racing surface, great racetrack, love seeing the fans and the stands full,” Hight said about Maple Grove. “This place is amazing. A lot of history here. Love coming back here to the East Coast and racing. One of the things that I really regret with my career is I never got to win Englishtown (N.J.) another racetrack with a lot of history. And luckily now, I've got to win this quite a few times. And the fans are great. And we've tested here before and got us out of a funk when we're fighting for a championship. So, love this place, just everything about it.”
To win Reading, Hight beat Jim Campbell and Matt Hagan on Sunday, and then answered with wins over reigning world champion Ron Capps and Green.
“I knocked off, from the second round to the final, three Countdown contenders, and you go up there against Chad Green, you don't lay up,” Hight said. “Okay? That car's ran a lot of 80s this weekend, and to knock off (Matt) Hagan and (Ron) Capps, it can go the other way. I mean, the Hagan race, that was one of the closest races maybe in history in Funny Car. That's insane. So, we can't get too carried away yet. We've got to go win some more races, and my opinion is you're going to have to win at least three in the Countdown, maybe four, if you want to be the champ in the end.”
Hight edged Hagan by the narrowest of margins. Hight clocked a 3.852-second run to just get past Hagan’s 3.859-second lap by 1 inch and kept his momentum going for the event win.
“You have to stay humble, and you have to remind them that it could have gone either way,” Hight said about his win over Hagan. “A race that close can go either direction and if just anything was off, the driver of the car, anything, it goes the other way, and he gets the win. And he may be sitting here and with the points lead, so you can use it maybe as a little confidence, but you've got to put it behind you and just keep... We got to work hard. I mean, this is the toughest Funny Car's ever been. And like I said, it's going to take some major, major work to win this championship. But one down, we've got five to go. And I'd give us an A+ for the weekend, but we got to put it behind us.”
Hight did mention that he wished his sponsors could have watched the race in person Monday.
“I’m a bit bummed that all the Cornwell Tools employees and dealers had to leave,” Hight said. “This is their first win on the side of my Funny Car. We’ve been so close this year and didn’t get it done for them. I wish they could have been here to celebrate. I’m going to give this trophy and buy another one. It’s going back to Van Wert and Mogadore. Their two factories because those guys work really hard behind the scenes to build great tools and they’re also excited about this program. They deserve some trophies and an ‘attaboy’ for this win.”