NHRA Funny Car’s Robert Hight Feeling Strong Heading To Route 66 Nationals
Story By: NHRA – JOLIET, IL – Robert Hight owns the track record in Funny Car at Route 66 Raceway, as well as back-to-back final round appearances at the two most recent NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series races at the Chicago track in 2018 and 2019.
Those are strong reasons why Hight is thrilled for NHRA’s return to Route 66 Raceway for the first time since 2019 at this weekend’s Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance. But another major reason is how Hight and his team bounced back after adversity at the most recent event in Charlotte.
Hight suffered back-to-back first round losses – a huge anomaly considering he didn’t lose in the first round in all of 2022 – and the team made wholesale changes heading into Charlotte. It led to a dominant weekend at the four-wide race, giving Hight, who is third in points, plenty of momentum going into the weekend in his 11,000-horsepower Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS.
“I’m super excited to get back to Chicago,” Hight said. “I love that facility and a lot of people from our shops will be there watching. We’re coming out there with the Cornwell Tools car and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all won the most recent race in 2019 and this year’s event will be on Fox Sports 1 (FS1). It is the sixth of 21 races during the 2023 campaign and early-season event is loaded with special events on Saturday, including the Pro Stock All-Star Callout, as well as the #2Fast2Tasty Mission NHRA Challenge in both nitro classes and Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Hight will get his opportunity to shine all weekend and his team, led by standout crew chief Jimmy Prock, has plenty to fall back on, winning the race in 2018 and setting the track records (3.851-seconds at 334.73 mph) the previous year. That makes him one of the top competitors in the loaded Funny Car ranks, which includes points leader Matt Hagan, who has three wins this season, Alexis DeJoria, John Force, defending world champ Ron Capps, J.R. Todd, Cruz Pedregon and Bob Tasca III.
Despite the tough competition, Hight impressed in Charlotte, rebounding with a big performance and crediting a team that helped make it all happen.
“We did change our car around after two first-round losses,” Hight said. “We did need that win after those two losses, so that got us right back in the hunt. At John Force Racing, we’ve got four really good teams that work together. When you have this team behind you, you’ve got good confidence, no matter what happens the race before. These wins come with great people, and you can’t do it without the whole group that we have.”
Hagan also races Terry Haddock in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge in Funny Car on Saturday, while the other matchup is Capps taking on Tasca.
Top Fuel points leader Torrence is after his first win of the season and will be challenged by the likes of Justin Ashley, Brittany Force, Charlotte winner Austin Prock and Las Vegas winner Antron Brown. The Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge matchups in Top Fuel include Ashley taking on Brown, and Force rematching with Prock, with the winners meeting on Saturday for bonus points and a bonus purse.
Dallas Glenn leads the way in Pro Stock, while others to watch are defending champ Erica Enders, Greg Anderson, Deric Kramer, Troy Coughlin Jr. and Camrie Caruso. Glenn is also the first seed in the Pro Stock All-Star Callout, meaning he’ll get the first pick of his opening-round opponent in Saturday’s specialty race that also features Matt Hartford, Kyle Koretsky, Aaron Stanfield, Coughlin, Cristian Cuadra, Enders and Caruso.
Gaige Herrera has won both races in Pro Stock Motorcycle, but other top names include Eddie Krawiec, defending champ Matt Smith, Angie Smith and Jerry Savoie. Herrera will race Jianna Evaristo in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, with A. Smith and Chase Van Sant meeting in the other matchup.
The Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by PEAK Performance will also feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. The FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports and Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown will be in action during the weekend, as well as Mountain Motor Pro Stock and Top Fuel Motorcycle. Fans can also look forward to watching the “Hot Blade” Jet Dragster exhibition with Al Z, and the “Walking Tall” PT Cruiser driven by “Nitromike” Kunz.
Fans will also be invited all weekend long to the Nitro Alley Stage, which will help create a festive atmosphere leading into the nitro pits. The Nitro Alley Stage will be the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets, music and much more.
Race fans at Route 66 Raceway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the event winners.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Chicago. This opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.
Qualifying opens on Friday, May 19 at 5 p.m. CT, leading into qualifying at 1 and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday, May 21. The opening round of the NHRA Pro Stock All-Star Callout takes place at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday, followed by the semifinals at 3:15 p.m. and the final round at 4:55 p.m. CT.