Robert Hight hit the throttle and immediately knew luck was on his side. With a track temperature knocking on the door of 140-degrees, he wrestled the steering wheel back into the sometimes fickle Atlanta Dragway groove.
Hight, a four-time winner in 2012 thus far, dodged a bullet and the end result was his fourth pole position of the season and first at the famed facility outside of Atlanta, Ga.
Hight wrestled his Auto Club-sponsored Mustang Funny Car enough to record a 4.15 elapsed time to top all Saturday afternoon Funny Car runs at the NHRA Summit Southern Nationals.
“Honestly, leaving the starting line, I didn’t think it was going to make it. The car made a hard move to the right. It was almost headed for the tree. I brought it back and it stayed there the rest of the way. I got on the radio and told my crew that it almost didn’t make it. I knew I was pointed straight.
“Lanny Miglizzi told me that the right tire had more bald than the left. The right one spun and the left had traction. It shot me over there towards the tree. Luckily I was able to save it.”
Hight’s Friday night 4.104-second run was never in jeopardy of being overtaken but his Sunday game plan faced a serious challenge.
“We were testing in the first session and the car didn’t make it down the track,” said Hight. “Jimmy put it back and told me that we needed to make it down the track. We didn’t have that yesterday – we had upper 120s.
“I’ll be honest, I believe the right lane is the preferred lane. To run a 4.15 in that lane is a statement. There’s a lot of cars bunched up there. Both the Pedregons are running good now. Cruz and Capps, it’s going to be a tough race tomorrow. I’m excited. You’re going to see a lot of close, side-by-side racing. It’s not going to be easy. When you win a race like this, it tends to be a little more special. You are going to need a few breaks along the way. Anything can happen in this heat. You’re seeing guys like Mike Neff not qualifying.
“You have cars putting out cylinders and if you do it too soon in the run, you’re in trouble. We dodged the bullet and made it.”
Hight had every reason to get rattled with the Mike Neff DNQ but rival Cruz Pedregon and his impressive run kept him in check.
“I saw Cruz go a 4.17 in front of me, so I was certain the track could hold it. I honestly believed if we could run a 4.17, that would be good for us. I never thought we could run a 4.15. That’s what I mean by you have to have a few breaks.”
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