Archive for Robert Hight

NHRA: She’s the people’s champion, for now

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , on November 15, 2009 by Martin Henderson

Robert Hight celebrated his Full Throttle NHRA Funny Car championship on Saturday when his third-place qualifying effort clinched the title.

In the six-race Countdown to the Championship, Hight had the car to beat – and it seemed like no one could. With crew chief Jimmy Prock finding his groove, Hight won three of the first five races. He was The Man.

Yet Hight’s first title didn’t come without controversy. The apparent choking of team owner John Force in a key race at the U.S. Nationals guaranteed that Hight would be in the Countdown; in the process, Hight’s free pass eliminated defending champion Cruz Pedregon from the playoff.

Chances are that Hight would have beaten Force anyway, but it clouded the integrity of the process and resulted in a first-class row between Force and his former driver, Tony Pedregon, brother of Cruz. Tony said he didn’t expect Force to get down the track, and Force didn’t get down the track. If anyone had the street cred to call out Force, it was Pedregon, who won a championship for Force in 2003.

Which brings us to Ashley Force Hood.

The people’s champion.

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Nothing fabricated about IndyCar’s championship

Posted in Column, IRL, NASCAR, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2009 by Martin Henderson

In a racing world where playoffs were created to ensure a close championship battle and maintain consumer interest, isn’t it ironic that the IndyCar Series may have the best championship of all?

Going into today’s final race of 2009 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Scott Dixon has the championship lead, teammate Dario Franchitti is five points off the pace, and Ryan Briscoe is eight points back. The series has averaged a new championship leader every other race this season.

There is nothing contrived about this battle for open wheel supremecy, nothing fabricated by artificial means or points. It will be decided in a 200-lap shootout on a 1.5-mile oval under the lights. One of those three men is going to win it, and he will earn it in the process.

Based on the whole season, not just a portion of it.

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NHRA: Capps tops Head after remembering the past

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by Martin Henderson

Gary Densham had a sign on the back of his trailer asking for financial support for his racing operation. His car was black, devoid of the color livery of a sponsored team.

Same with Jim Head. No sponsor, no commitment to running the full NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season.

Yet Densham and Head faced off in the Funny Car semifinals at the 49th Kragen O’Reilly Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. What does that say about the economics at play in professional motorsports when a couple of independents can get just as far as cars backed by NAPA Auto Parts and the Auto Club of Southern California?

Well, it says there are still sponsor bargains to be had. It also says that Densham and Head know what they’re doing, that professional racers have become notoriously adept and learning to steal from Peter to pay Paul, that they will manipulate parts and favors and do everything they can to squeeze every ounce of horsepower out of an engine that produces 7,000 of them.
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NHRA: Not exactly off to a Full Throttle start, but not exactly lacking storylines, either

Posted in Blog, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2009 by Martin Henderson

The first  two days of the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Pomona weren’t exactly run at full throttle. New series presenting sponsor Full Throttle Energy Drink must see the irony: “Go Full Throttle or Go Home,” which pretty much summed up the fan experience as the rain poured on Pomona. There was no throttling, and everyone went home wet. That is, if they came out to the track at all.

But you had to like the drama Saturday in the first day of on-track activities. Although Antron Brown at first appeared to run the fastest 1,000-foot time in history, the story of the day was Larry Dixon’s failure to qualify in the debut of the Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing dragster.  With the team behind him that helped Tony Schumacher win his fifth consecutive title a year ago, Dixon’s debut was nothing short of disastrous, a full-throttle flameout. Lined up against Schumacher in the last pair of the day under threatening skies, Dixon encountered problems and coasted to the finish. He wasn’t going full throttle, and you can pretty much figure out what that meant.
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NHRA Funny Car preview: Expect the Hight of drama in this shootout

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2009 by Martin Henderson

Cruz Pedregon proved in 2008 that timing is everything. As two of the three North American racing series determine championships based on playoffs, the only thing that matters is making those playoffs.

That’s how Pedregon managed to win his first NHRA Powerade Funny Car title since 1992. He made the six-race playoffs, then won the last three races after winning only once in the previous 11 years.

The smart money in 2009 says the title will come down to a two-time champion and two-time runner-up, neither of whom finished in the Top 3 last season.

Tony Pedregon and Robert Hight.
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NHRA: Under pressure, Pedregon earns his money

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2008 by Martin Henderson

Cruz Pedregon had prepared himself for this moment. Had told himself everything would be all right, that he would be relaxed, that the first round of the 44th Auto Club Finals in Pomona would be just another race.

That’s what he kept telling himself, lying with every word.

Money time.

He was going up against journeyman Jerry Toliver. It would be OK.

Keep calm and stay focused. It was no different from 500 other runs in his career.

Then he tried to strap himself into his 8,000 horsepower Toyota Funny Car and it took hold.

The pressure that he said he would avoid? His body was imploding.

Money time.

Pedregon had crossed over into Ron Capps’ world, had discovered what it was like to be stuffed into a fishbowl and squeezed with a million dreams.
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NHRA: Hight looks like a championship force

Posted in Column, NHRA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2008 by Martin Henderson

Robert Hight looks like he should be wearing a brown shirt and shorts and delivering my  packages from HSN. Parcel delivery. Short. Solid. Fit. And maybe that’s appropriate because in Hight’s day job, he delivers the mail for John Force Racing.

He drives a Funny Car 330 mph. For the last couple of years, he has just missed winning an NHRA Powerade Drag Racing championship.

“He’s got everything that it takes, not just to win a championship, but to win 10,” said Force, who has won 14 and knows a little something about what it takes. “I see so much of him in me. Ashley (Force) is still learning the ropes, but Robert is ready right now.”

Though nitro racing may be a crew chief’s sport — and Jimmy Prock is no lightweight — Hight has all the tools to saddle the horsepower and ride the lead car in Force’s Pony Express.
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