Robert Hight has already won once this year at one of his favorite tracks, zMAX Dragway, which hosts this weekend’s 15th annual Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals. But a season sweep at "the Bellagio of dragstrips" would go a long way in the Funny Car standout trying to claim a fourth world championship.
Hight opened the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs in style last weekend, winning in Reading and jumping into the points lead in a loaded Funny Car category.
He also knows that won’t be nearly enough to win a world title in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, but the good news is Hight has enjoyed more success than anyone in the Funny Car ranks at zMAX Dragway. His seven overall wins in Charlotte pace the field, and there’s plenty of good vibes following his triumph at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in April.
Hight is also plenty focused on the task at hand in his Cornwell Tools/AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS, knowing the importance of another good weekend at zMAX Dragway in the midst of a stretch of three straight races to open the Countdown to the Championship.
“Hopefully, we learned some things that will help us in Charlotte,” Hight said. “We can’t get too carried away yet. We’ve got to win some more races. You have to stay humble and put things behind you. We’ve got to work hard, and this is the toughest Funny Car has ever been. It’s going to take some major, major work to win this championship. We’ve found some consistency with the combination that [crew chief] Jimmy Prock is using. It’s slight adjustments, and it’s running well, the progress is showing, and it’s perfect timing. We’re sitting in a good spot to really take a swing at this fourth championship.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), and Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) claimed victories in 2022 at the fall race at zMAX Dragway. This year’s race will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations coverage at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 24. It is the second of six playoff races and the 17th of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA season, and Hight is locked in as the intensity continues to ratchet up.
Things didn’t go as planned for Hight to open the summer, but the team has found its rhythm at the perfect time. He’s been to the semifinals or better at the past four races, including final-round showings in Brainerd and Reading. It leaves him in a good place heading into the final five events, but Hight is nowhere near ready to declare anything with a field that also includes defending and back-to-back world champion Capps, Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca III, John Force, Chad Green, and J.R. Todd.
If anything, Hight and his team will try to raise their performance even more heading into crunch time.
“We're on a good roll right now," Hight said. "This Cornwell Tools team has to keep working hard. We have one down, and I’d give us an A-plus for last weekend, but we’ve got five to go, and we have to put last weekend behind us to get ready for Charlotte.”
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 22, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 1 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 24. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations on FS1 at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
To purchase tickets to the betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, please visit www.zmaxdragway.com or call 800-455-FANS (3267).