Story By: SARA SLAUGHTER / JOHN FORCE RACING – CHANDLER, AZ – Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS team are on top of their game as they head to the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park Feb. 25-27.
The Auto Club team enter the second of 22 events on the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season riding the momentum of a win at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
It was a statement 54th career victory for Hight and the Auto Club team at the NHRA season-opening Winternationals after finishing 2021 unsatisfied in the No. 8 position. Now the points leader, Hight, with Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham at the helm of his Chevrolet, has already extended to 17 the number of seasons in which he has won at least one tour event. The three-time championship team heads to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park just two weeks after a successful pre-season test session at the facility that led to their victory last weekend.
“That wasn’t a lot of fun last year. Since Jimmy Prock came back, we’ve been in the thick of things every year. Won two championships, set records,” Hight said. “These Auto Club guys stayed focused, worked really hard in the off season and looked at what bit us last year. If you look at our runs in testing and what we did in Pomona, I think they’ve found it and they’ve fixed it. I’m happy. We definitely have more consistency than we had last year. I can only see it getting better.”
Hight has won at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports once in an all-JFR showdown with then teammate Mike Neff in 2012. He was the runner-up at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in 2007, 2008 and 2014 and was the No. 1 qualifier in 2007 and 2019. He earned the No. 1 spot in 2007 with a time of 4.636 seconds that remains the quickest ever at the quarter mile distance at which races were contested until June of 2008. In his most recent Arizona appearance in 2020, he qualified No. 3 before being upset in the first round.
“I feel really good about going to Arizona this weekend. It’s hard not to. We had a great test session here just a couple weeks ago and last weekend with the win,” Hight said. “We know it’s not going to be easy, going after wins and ultimately a championship. We have to work race by race, run by run. This Auto Club Chevy team is up to the task though. We’re on a mission, we’re focused and we’re going to do the best we can.”
JOHN FORCE IS LOOKING FOR A TURNAROUND
Now in his 47th career NHRA season, John Force and his PEAK / BlueDEF Platinum Chevrolet Camaro SS team enter this weekend’s Arizona Nationals optimistic as they head to a track at which Force has unprecedented success.
Coming off a disappointing performance in the season-opening Winternationals where he qualified 16th and had a first-round exit, Force and his PEAK / BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevy team will try to get back on track at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, a track on which he was quickest in pre-season testing just two weeks ago.
“Pomona, home track, that was difficult. Not the showing we wanted but as a team owner, it was a good weekend, Brittany with Flav-R-Pac and Monster No. 1, Robert and Auto Club with the win and Austin getting Montana Brand into the finals,” Force said. “This PEAK BlueDEF team, we know we’ll be okay. Something just didn’t quite add up in Pomona, but I know Danny Hood and Tim Fabrisi, they have this Chevrolet dialed in. We showed what we could do at testing. So, I’m not worried. I’m excited.”
Force not only dominated testing, but he has won more races at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park than anyone else. His eight wins (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2005) are three more than anyone else in any category. From 1994 through 2002, he missed the final round only once in 1998. In addition to his eight wins, he has been runner-up six times, most recently in 2016. He has started the Arizona Nationals from the No. 1 qualifying position eight times (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2010 and 2014). In 2020, his most recent appearance at Phoenix, he reached the semifinals.
“A lot of good racing at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park,” Force said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the fans, we haven’t had the chance to put on a show for them in two years. It’ll be good to be back. We’ll put on a show and hopefully get this PEAK Chevy in the winner’s circle. It’s the plan, it’s always the plan, just gotta go out there one run at a time and get it done.”
Qualifying at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park begins Friday with the first session at 5 p.m. and continues Saturday with runs at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Eliminations are slated for 11 a.m. on Sunday. Television coverage will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) beginning with qualifying shows Saturday at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET. Eliminations will air at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday.