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Robert Hight heads back to where it started: Heartland Park

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 16) – This weekend, Robert Hight returns to where it all started: Heartland Park Topeka.

Hight’s first race with John Force Racing as a crew member was here in 1995, and he earned his Funny Car license at the track in 2004.

Now, he comes back with a vengeance for the NHRA Menards Heartland Nationals, trying to put the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS in Heartland Park’s winner’s circle.

“When first started with John Force Racing in 1995, Topeka is where I started,” Hight said. “I flew into Topeka, met (crew chiefs) Austin Coil and Bernie Fedderly and got started. And I got my Funny Car license in Topeka, too, in 2004. Love that place.”

Hight’s first race behind the wheel at Topeka was in 2005, and he raced to the semifinals. Hight has been to the semis in seven of his 12 races there, with victories in 2010 and 2011. The 2011 win was historic for JFR, as Hight scored the 200th victory for the team by beating teammate Mike Neff in the final round.

Adding another race victory is possibility this weekend, as crew chief Jimmy Prock, co-crew chief Chris Cunningham and the Auto Club crew has Hight’s Camaro running well. He qualified No. 4 and went to the final in Houston, qualified No. 2 in Charlotte and raced to the semifinals in Atlanta.

The surge has moved Hight to fourth in the Funny Car points standings – but he’s looking for more.

“We’re ready to get the monkey off our back and get a win,” Hight said. “Topeka’s going to be a good place to do it. We’re right there. The car is running really good. I can’t wait.”

Heartland Park can produce record runs if the conditions are good, putting another smile on Hight’s race.

“It’s one of the best racing surfaces in the country,” Hight said. “We run a real night session there, so you could see big numbers with the track being as flat as it is and a nice surface area. It’s going to be fast. I love going to Topeka.

“We’ve got a couple crew members from that area. It’s always cool going there and having their families out.”

Two qualifying sessions are slated for Friday (5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern) and Saturday (3 and 6 p.m.), with final eliminations scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday.

Fox Sports 1 will provide one hour of qualifying coverage on Friday (11 p.m. Eastern) and Saturday (3 p.m.) and three hours of live finals coverage starting at 3 p.m.

4-Second Reads:
• Robert Hight has competed in the NHRA Heartland Nationals 12 times, and every year since 2005, his first race at the track.
• Hight has advanced to the final round of the NHRA Heartland Nationals three times, winning twice (2010, 2011).
• Hight is 20-10 in elimination rounds at Heartland Park Topeka.
• Hight has qualified No. 1 four times for the NHRA Heartland Nationals – all in a six-year span (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010). He won the race in 2010.
• Hight is 8-4 in first-round matchups in the NHRA Heartland Nationals. He has won his last six first-round matchups, dating back to the second race of the season in Chandler, Ariz.
• Hight is currently fourth in Funny Car points standings, up two spots from sixth from the previous race.
• In his career, Hight has 37 victories and 382 round wins. He has 49 No. 1 qualifying spots, tied for 13th all-time in NHRA’s professional categories.
• Hight’s most recent NHRA victory – 2016 NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.
• Hight’s most recent No. 1 qualifying effort – 2016 Fall Nationals in Dallas, Texas.
• Hight’s best time/speed at Topeka – 3.907 seconds (2016 Q2); 332.84 (2016 E1)
• Hight’s best time/speed of career – 3.828 seconds (2017 Gainesville E1); 334.82 mph (2017 Gainesville E1)

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