In Robert Hight's run to a 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship, his incredible weekend at Pacific Raceways was certainly one of the biggest highlights of his season. The Funny Car standout dominated on nearly every run en route to his first career victory at the facility, finishing the famed Western Swing on a brilliant note.
Hight heads back to Seattle for this weekend’s 31st annual CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals on a good note after winning in Sonoma last weekend. After John Force’s win in Denver, John Force Racing will looking for a Western Swing sweep.
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Hight (Funny Car), and Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and the FOX national broadcast network, including live final eliminations on FOX starting at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Aug. 5. It is the 16th of 24 events during the 2018 NHRA season.
Sitting third in the loaded Funny Car class this year with the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship fast approaching, Hight knows what another strong outing in Seattle can mean for his team.
“We dominated that race last year,” Hight said. “It gave us some momentum and we were on our way. That’s the goal. For some odd reason, once you have success at a race that confidence makes you better. That was our first time winning there and we want to win another one. We want to be consistent and continue to raise our performance. I think our consistency is right there and we have a good car. The last thing you want to be doing this time of year is searching for a combination. This is the time of year where we need to be at our best.”
It was the perfect backdrop for one standout run after another last year for Hight, who qualified No. 1 at the race. The victory gave Hight two wins on the 2017 Western Swing and he started this year’s Swing with a solid semifinal appearance in Denver. But Hight, who has one win this season, knows the importance of doing well during this span. It got him on track for his championship run a year ago, and he’s banking on building similar momentum in 2018.
“The Western Swing is my favorite time of the year,” said Hight, who has 42 career Funny Car wins. “I’m a West Coast guy and I like all the tracks. They’re all different and it’s that time of the year where you start thinking about the Countdown. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) said last year we better have our act together when we head out West and we did. We want to do that again and keep carrying that momentum through the rest of the year.”
To do it, Hight will have to get past a loaded field that includes Matt Hagan, who has three wins in 2018, Jack Beckman, two-time 2018 winner J.R. Todd, three-time event winner Tim Wilkerson and 2016 world champ Ron Capps. But Hight and the John Force Racing team have performed well in 2018, as John Force, an eight-time Seattle winner, won last weekend in Denver and Courtney Force has the points lead on the strength of four wins.
“There’s a lot of cars at every race that can win,” Hight said. “But the truth is, you can’t pay attention to what another team is doing. We can’t focus on what everyone else is doing. All of us (at John Force Racing) have to continue to work together as a team. If we do that together, the learning curve is way less for everyone.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 3 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 4, at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 253-639-5927. Tickets also are available online at www.pacificraceways.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate.