John Force knew his team couldn’t win every race this season and, after reeling off six-in-a-row, the streak finally played out in the final round of the 32nd annual Summit Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Robert Hight’s usually flawless Team Castrol/Auto Club Ford stumbled just long enough in that final between the No. 1 and No. 2 qualifiers to allow Ron Capps to sail by for a streak-breaking victory in the NAPA Dodge.
Capps’ Dodge was just a tick better on Sunday and Hight was quick to acknowledge that fact.
“Those guys did a great job,” he said of the NAPA team. “They went down the track all eight runs very respectably. We knew we had our hands full. If it hadn’t dropped a cylinder in the semis, we may have been able to get lane choice and put it in the right lane and it would have been a little better – but it wasn’t meant to be; nothing to hang our heads about here. We’ve had a great season. We’ll just keep going.”
Despite the loss, his first in five final round appearances this year, Hight opened up at 203-point lead on teammate Mike Neff, who failed to qualify, and Capps, who will share the No. 2 spot when the tour moves on to Topeka, Kan., for the Dollar General Summer Nationals, May 18-20.
“It’s pretty cool having number 1 and number 2 in qualifying get to the final,” Hight said of something that is a rarity in the Funny Car division. “(A seventh straight JFR win) just wasn’t meant to be.
“Our Auto Club team did a great job all day; came up a little short in the final, but you know it’s such a fine line out there and it shows you where we’ve gotten some breaks. To be able to go this long and have a streak like this says a lot. So, we’ll get going to Topeka and get right back on the horse.”
For its effort and despite the final round outcome, Hight’s team earned the Full Throttle Hard Working Crew Award in the Funny Car division for
It was Hight’s fifth final in eight appearances in the Southern Nationals, a race he won in 2007 and 2010.
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