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No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight ready to win in Windy City

JOLIET, Ill. (July 8) – Robert Hight and his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS team pushed it to the limit on Saturday at Route 66 Raceway.

And while Hight’s Chevy didn’t fully hook up, the team learned plenty of lessons – and still managed to hang on to the No. 1 qualifying spot for the Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals.

“Leaving here last night, I would have bet anybody that if we didn’t run quicker today we would have not been No. 1, (but) a lot of people missed it out there tonight, including us,” Hight said. “We have to get it together for tomorrow because we’re going to have more heat.

“We’ve got to pick up where we left off in Norwalk. It’s going to be a hot track tomorrow, we can run like we did in Norwalk, I think we have a good shot.”

Hight had the car to beat in Norwalk, making quick pass after quick pass on Sunday before a clutch malfunction in the final round caused him to come up short of his first victory of 2017.

Hight’s speed continued in Chicago, as he made a top pass of 3.851 seconds at 334.73 mph on Friday to set both ends of the Route 66 Raceway track record.

Crew chief Jimmy Prock tried to improve on those numbers Saturday, but the track couldn’t hold it.

“You want to go down the track and get three points every run, but sometimes, if you don’t push it far enough and know your limit, you might find where that limit is on Sunday – and that’s the end of your day,” Hight said. “We know what not to do now.”

Hight, who secured the 51st No. 1 qualifier of his career, will line up against No. 16 qualifier Jim Campbell in the first round. Campbell’s best pass was 4.171 seconds at 304.74 mph.

The No. 1 qualifier capped a busy week for Hight, the president of John Force Racing. He attended the Chicago Cubs game Wednesday at Wrigley Field, watching team owner John Force throw out the first pitch. Hight and Force then made an appearance at an Advance Auto Parts store in Chicago that night.

On Thursday, the two met employees of Old World Industries in Northbrook, Ill., before being a part of the NHRA press conference in downtown Chicago and then being guests on CSN Chicago’s SportsTalk Live.

“It’s been a fun week in Chicago,” Hight said. “We’ve been to a baseball game and we’ve worked hard for Old World Industries and PEAK. A lot of their folks have been out at the track with us all weekend. The CEO’s coming tomorrow, Tom Hurvis, and he’s never been to an NHRA drag race. I’d like to get him in the winner’s circle.”

Final eliminations are scheduled for noon Central on Sunday and will be televised live at 2 p.m. Central on Fox Sports 1.

4-Second Reads (Robert Hight):
- Qualifying Round 1 (Left Lane): 3.917 seconds/325.14 mph; from Point A to Point B and the quickest of all competitors (No. 1 of session and No. 1 overall; three bonus points)
- Qualifying Round 2 (Right Lane): 3.851 seconds/334.73 mph; set both ends of the track record with a straight shot, down the middle (No. 1 of session and No. 1 overall; three bonus points in session and six bonus points overall)
- Qualifying Round 3 (Right Lane): 4.597 seconds/179.95 mph; loses traction at half track and ended run (No. 8 of session and No. 1 overall; no bonus points in session and six bonus points overall)
- Qualifying Round 4 (Left Lane): 6.915 seconds/94.79 mph; strikes tires around the 400-foot mark (No. 11 of session and No. 1 overall; no bonus points in session and six bonus points overall)
- This is the second time this season and 51st time in his career Hight has qualified No. 1. The last time Hight qualified No. 1 was last month at Epping, N.H. His last victory from the No. 1 position came in the 2012 Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C. His last head-to-head victory from No. 1 came in the 2012 spring race at Las Vegas, Nev.
- This is the third time Hight has qualified No. 1 at Chicago. He also qualified No. 1 for the 2005 and 2010 races.
- Hight’s matchup against Jim Campbell marks the third time the two will compete against each other, the most recent meeting in the last race at Norwalk, Ohio. Hight holds a 2-0 advantage all-time, with both victories coming this year, and both in the first round.

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