For the second time in his career, Robert Hight is a Mello Yello Funny Car champion. After a drama-filled weekend, where the 2009 champ qualified No. 15 in the final session, Hight earned the first-round victory he needed against Tim Wilkerson. Then, he waited to see what defending champion Ron Capps did against Del Worsham.
Capps had cylinders out, gave his NAPA Auto Parts flopper a pedal, but fell in the opening round for the second-straight race. When the win-light turned on for Worsham, the championship went to Hight for the first time in seven years. It’s the first championship for John Force Racing since John Force took home his title in 2013.
“This is the same team we won the championship with before, and they don’t need any motivation,” said Hight. “We’re here for a reason. Everybody worked their tails off, and we were quiet. Everybody knew we had a job to do. Every run in qualifying got a little further and a little further, and I knew we were just a little adjustment away.”
Hight entered the Auto Club NHRA Finals with a 15-point lead over Capps, but that had dropped to just eight points by the time raceday rolled around after four disastrous qualifying sessions for the AAA Funny Car team. Crew chief Jimmy Prock managed to get the tune-up right in the first round, something he’s managed to do throughout the Countdown in his first season back with Hight.
“This is huge for John Force Racing,” said Hight. “We struggled for a few years. The Auto Club deserved better than what we were giving them. Jimmy Prock made that happen, and so did Chris Cunningham. This is amazing. Ron Capps was an amazing champion, and he’s had a great season. They’re a great team over there.”
Hight has 41 career wins, four in 2017, and two in the Countdown to the Championship. He earned his first win of the season at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, and since then has been on an absolute tear. Capps owned the early part of the season, but the second half of the campaign belonged to the President of John Force Racing.