HIGHT HOPING TO RIDE MOMENTUM TO AAA TEXAS NHRA FALL NATIONALS WIN
ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 16, 2013) – Leading up to the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago, it had been a quiet season for Robert Hight. Uncharacteristically quiet.
The 2009 NHRA Funny Car champion had advanced to only two final rounds since his four-race winning streak ended last April in Charlotte. First-round losses, previously an uncommon occurrence, mounted and led to a seventh-place finish in the standings a year ago. That drought continued into 2013.
Then, a couple of months ago, Height’s owner, John Force, decided to make some changes and the two drivers switched teams, moving crew chief Mike Neff to Hight’s car. That move appears to have been the key to the turnaround — and just at the right time with The Countdown to the Championship in full swing.
“Winning the U.S. Nationals was a huge deal for the Auto Club team,” said Hight, who broke a 35-race winless streak with the win. “It was also a big deal for me personally. I am with a new team and after a while when you are not winning you start doubting yourself.
“I knew this was a winning team and I didn’t want to let them down. Mike Neff has been great and he really gave me a lot of confidence in Indy. I am taking that confidence into the Countdown.”
Obviously, Hight has found his groove. In the first playoff race last weekend at Charlotte, he backed up the Indy win with yet another victory so far as he’s concerned, this weekend’s AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex couldn’t be coming at a better time.
“When I won the championship in 2009 we went to the final in Indy and then won Charlotte and Dallas,” he said. “I would love to repeat that accomplishment again this season. I have had success at the Texas Motorplex and I love racing there.”
Hight’s affinity for the Motorplex is evident. With the 28th annual event on the horizon, he truly appreciates the facility, its place in NHRA history and its owner, Billy Meyer.
“Billy Meyer is a Funny Car driver and the Texas Motorplex was his dream facility,” said Hight. “It is still one of the top facilities on the tour. You look at all the new facilities and they are copying what Billy did in 1986. The all-concrete track can really put up good numbers.
“If you get some cool weather I think you could see some national records and great racing. I’ll be racing for AAA Texas and they also sponsor the race so I definitely want to get them into the winner’s circle.”
Hight won the 2009 title after starting the Countdown in the 10th slot and he was ninth heading into the Charlotte event. If he does indeed win this weekend, another title could be in his future.
“I think you will need to win at least three of the Countdown race to win the Funny Car championship and you’ll need to get to the semifinals in the rest,” he said. “This is one of the most competitive Funny Car battles ever. I think the cars are better than when I came from 10th to win the championship in 2009.
“I like my chances though. I have had success at the Countdown race tracks and so has Mike Neff as crew chief and driver. It will be tough especially when you consider my teammates John Force in the Castrol Funny Car and Courtney Force in the Traxxas Funny Car plus the rest of the Countdown drivers. I am glad we are starting with four races in a row because you can get some momentum going.”
Tickets for the Sept. 19-22 AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals are available now, ranging from just $10 to $380 for weekend packages. Youth tickets for children 12 and under start as low as $5. For tickets or more information, please call the Texas Motorplex office at (800) MOTORPLEX or visit www.texasmotorplex.com.
Gates open at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 with sportsman qualifying runs between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Two rounds of professional qualifying, at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m., highlight the Friday, Sept. 20 schedule, along with sportsman qualifying throughout the day. Saturday, Sept. 21 is packed with sportsman eliminations and the final two rounds of professional qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.
Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, with pre-race ceremonies at 10 a.m. and final eliminations getting under way at 11 a.m.
Texas Motorplex was the first all-concrete stadium-style drag racing facility ever constructed. Built in 1986, Texas Motorplex has been the place of many drag racing milestones and world record performances. The Billy Meyer-owned facility hosts a number of racing and car show events between March and November each year and also features the Champion’s Club – an 11,000 square-foot facility – that serves fully catered events throughout the year.