Robert Hight enjoyed more perks than just being the NHRA Funny Car points leader earlier in the season when he won four of this season’s first five races.
The early success also afforded Hight, the driver of the Auto Club Ford, the chance to test new setups in the following races because he had a wide berth between himself and the cutoff for the 10-driver Countdown to One.
Hight’s four wins – at Firebird (Az.) International Raceway, Gainesville Raceway, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and at zMAX Dragway – came in succession.
Did Hight, who hasn’t won since, want a break? Not at all.
“I love it,” Hight said. “Momentum is a huge thing in this sport.”
Now the six-race Countdown begins at zMAX. Hight said his team started it with the mindset of being through with taking risks on setups. They’re ready to make a run at what would be Hight’s second Funny Car championship.
Hight’s four early wins helped him enter the Countdown in second place, 30 points behind top seed Ron Capps. With the first four Countdown races coming in four straight weeks, Hight said his team is aiming for another four-in-a-row streak.
“The way this all works and having four races in a row, I believe that it’s going to be (like) if a guy can come through here with a win you can carry that momentum right through to the next week,” Hight said. “Four in a row, just bam, bam bam.”
Hight got his bid for a second consecutive zMAX win off on firm footing. His elapsed time of 4.116 seconds in the second qualifying session put him fifth on the qualifying chart.
The key to returning to winning form, he said, is simply being consistent.
“If you can really knock them out in this first four (races), you’re looking good,” Hight said. “It’s all a matter of getting hot at the right time. You’ve got to come together as a team and (succeed) when it counts.”
Hight would know.
He barely qualified for the 2009 Countdown, entering the run for the championship without a win; but he turned it around quickly, winning the first two Countdown races on his way to the championship.
Hight said his team has maintained the same focus it had in the early-season winning streak. But the Countdown gets everyone on Hight’s John Force Racing team – driver included – pushing to reach greater heights. It’s definitely possible, he said.
“Everybody’s a little more up and excited now that it’s the Countdown. Not that we weren’t focused but we’re ready to rise to the next level,” Hight said. “My guys have promised me they’re going to give me the next eight weeks and we’re going to hit it as hard as we can.
“Some of the (early-season) things we tried didn’t work out. But I’m fine. I think we have as good a shot at winning this as anybody else.”
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