Robert Hight took care of business at the Auto Club NHRA Finals to win his third Funny Car championship. The veteran racer reached his ninth final of the 2019 season by defeating rival Matt Hagan and locked up the championship against Jack Beckman.
The final round did not go exactly according to plan for the Auto Club Chevy Camaro winner. He performed a half-track burnout to salute the fans at his home track in Pomona but it appeared his car broke. Hight quickly hopped out of the top hatch and climbed over the wall, allowing Beckman to drive to victory.
Hight all but clinched the championship by reaching the final in Pomona. He cut a .041-second light against Hagan and ran a 3.977-second lap to beat the Dickie Venables-tuned car by a wide margin. That was not enough to officially wrap up the 2019 Funny Car world championship, though.
The driver of the Auto Club Chevy Camaro needed to make one more run without crossing the centerline to become the champion for the third time in his career and the first time since 2017. Hight may not have made a run in the final, but he did not lose any points and edged Beckman by eight points to earn the right to wear the Funny Car championship jacket.
“The most important run of my life was that semifinal against Matt Hagan. I’ve thought about it before, that when it comes down to one run to win a championship – how will you perform? Will you choke or will you get the job done? My heart was beating out of my chest when I was staging the car, but we got it done.
“We had our work cut out for us today. We had to race the boss, John Force, who’s had the best car since the Western Swing and then Shawn Langdon, who’s a great leaver with a good car and then Matt.
“We led the points from Day 1, which has been a dream of mine since the Countdown era. This has just been the mist steady year I’ve ever had. It’s a real tribute to Jimmy Prock, Chris Cunningham, and the whole Auto Club team.”
Hight entered the Countdown to the Championship as the No. 1 seed with five victories under his belt and picked up a sixth at the NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals in Charlotte. He captured nine pole positions and tallied a 50-18 win-loss record while bringing home another championship for John Force Racing.
He relinquished his grasp on first place just once during the 2019 season: Following the Countdown-opener in Reading. He quickly recovered at the AAA-sponsored NHRA Midwest Nationals to move back in front of the Funny Car category. Hight never trailed again and came into Pomona with the lead. He will return to the NHRA Winternationals in February with the No. 1 on his Funny Car.