MADISON, Ill. (Oct. 01, 2023) – Robert Hight and the AAA Missouri / Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS team leave the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway No. 2 in points with a quarterfinal exit on Sunday. John Force and the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevy Camaro SS also had a second-round finish while Brittany Force in the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac dragster and Austin Prock in the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster had first-round exits.
Robert Hight and the AAA Missouri team put their difficult qualifying behind them when they came out for round one of race day. Lined up against longtime rival Cruz Pedregon, Hight and the AAA Chevy blasted to a 3.940-second pass at 314.85 mph to be the quickest of the session and beat Pedregon’s 4.024 at 320.36. The win set Hight up with a quarterfinal race against championship contender Bob Tasca III. Hight would have the better elapsed time at 3.977 seconds and 317.49 mph, but coupled with his .077 second reaction time, the AAA team would endure a holeshot loss against Tasca’s .018 reaction time and 4.008 pass at 323.74.
“The whole team did their job to get us through qualifying and that first round. This AAA of Missouri team is clicking. We put qualifying behind us and had a great start to race day. Being the eighth pair down the track, it was getting warmer, the track was getting worse. So, hats off to Jimmy and Thomas Prock and Nate Hildahl and the whole team for getting low ET of the first round. We’ve got some work to do heading into the last three races of the season but we’re still in it. We’re right there.”
John Force and the PEAK Chevy team turned their No. 4 qualifying position into a first-round victory over Terry Haddock. Force handled the PEAK Camaro to a solid 3.969-second pass at 311.85 mph to defeat Haddock’s 9.438 at 87.27 after he smoked the tires early. In the second round, the PEAK Chevy would get loose down track for only a 5.037 pass at 161.17 falling short to Matt Hagan’s 4.031 at 312.35.
“We are okay, the old hot rod is going down there. My PEAK guys are doing a great job putting up with me,” Force said. “But you know what at the end of the day it’s the Countdown, you want to win. I want to thank the fans for being here. That’s what it’s all about; we’re here to entertain you. I also want to send prayers to Angie Smith, get well. I’ve been there, we love you, Angie.”
After struggling through qualifying, No. 11 qualifiers Brittany Force and the Monster Energy team didn’t have quite enough to take down eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher in the first round. Force would leave the starting line first but the 3.803-second pass at 292.71 mph after her dragster shut off early wasn’t enough for Schumacher’s 3.730 at 332.84.
This Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team is leaving St. Louis seven in points after a very challenging weekend. It took us three qualifying runs to barely get back in the show in the No. 11 spot and then facing Tony Schumacher in the first round we were on a killer run but the pan pressure shut us off. We were just coasting at the end and he was able to drive around us,” Force said. “Overall looking at the weekend, we know where the errors were. We know how to fix them. So, we’ll take a little bit of a break and reevaluate everything and go into his next one full force.”
The improvement Austin Prock and the Montana Brand team steadily saw through qualifying came to an end in the first round of eliminations with a first-round matchup against Clay Millican. The Montana Brand dragster would have tire smoke at the hit, Prock would attempt to pedal his way to the finish line for a 7.623-second pass at 85.41 mph. Millican, the eventual race winner, would have a clean 3.761 at 333.58 for the win.
“I think we all expected a better race day. It’s disappointing to end three in a row like this but we need to go back and reset,” Prock said. “Still three races left in the season and this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team can do a lot with that. We’ll be ready for Texas and the Stampede of Speed.”
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship continues with race four of six at the Stampede of Speed at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas for the NHRA FallNationals Oct. 13-15.