CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 27, 2022) – Robert Hight and the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS team earned their second consecutive victory Sunday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. John Force moved the PEAK / BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevy Camaro SS to seventh in points with a semifinal finish while Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy team had a quarterfinal appearance and Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster had a first round exit.
For the first time in his career, Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevy team have started the season with back-to-back victories as they worked their way to the 55th win of Hight’s career, his second at the Arizona Nationals. The three-time championship team started the day in the No.2 qualifying position racing Paul Lee. Hight would handle his Chevrolet to a 3.864-second pass at 329.42 mph while Lee would smoke the tires for a 9.484 setting Hight up to run against long-time rival Bob Tasca III.
The Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham led Auto Club team would rally to 3.855-second pass at 330.55 mph to send Tasca’s 3.922 at 332.84 packing. With the win, Hight would have a semifinals battle against boss and 16-time champion John Force. Hight would keep it consistent, taking his Auto Club Funny Car to a 3.847-second pass at 326.63 mph while Force would struggle keeping traction to run 7.231 at 86.59.
In the finals it would be John Force Racing versus Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) as Hight lined up with Matt Hagan. Hight would deliver another on par run at 3.837-seconds and 330.39 mph to deny TSR their first team win. Hagan would have a 4.045-second pass at 267.00 mph after shutting off near the 600-foot mark.
“This is amazing. You have no idea what it’s like to win one race. I still feel that the Funny Car class is the toughest class out here. From top to bottom, it’s stacked and any given weekend, anyone could step up and win. So, to go and win two in a row in this day and age, that is amazing,” Hight said. “And if you look back to this strong string of runs that we’re on: five in a row at Auto Club Raceway in the .80s, come her and have seven runs in the .80s, that’s pretty impressive what Jimmy and Chris and the whole Auto Club team came up with over the winter. Even yesterday when the track was 107° and we went up there and ran .84, you don’t surprise Jimmy very often, and that run surprised him, and it surprised me too. I’m very fortunate to drive this thing right now. It’s what you dream about and it’s not going to get any easier from here on out. You’ve got big battles – last weekend with Capps, this weekend with Hagan, and you’re going to see a lot of these battles all year long. We just hope we’re up for it.”
The turnaround continued for John Force and the BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevy as they pedaled their way to a 4.250-second pass at 211.93 mph to better Jeff Arend’s 5.950 at 116.09. In the second round, Force would catch reigning world champion Ron Capps on the starting line. Force’s 3.902 at 329.42 with a .052 reaction time would better Capps’ 3.869 at 327.74 and a .121 reaction time.
The win pitted Force against teammate and president of John Force Racing Robert Hight in the semifinals. Force would run into tire smoke for only a 7.231-second run at 86.59 in the PEAK Chevy while Hight would run 3.847 at 326.63.
“Not a bad weekend for this PEAK Chevy. Qualified decent you know, right there at No. 3,” Force said. “We went some rounds and if I have to lose, well then, I’d rather it be to Robert and that Auto Club car. They’re really something right now, and Brittany and Austin, they’re right in it too. We’ll keep on building, keep working. Danny Hood, Tim Fabrisi, they really pour themselves into this car. So, I’m looking forward to getting to Gainesville and going after it again.”
Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac team picked things up from qualifying to lay down an impressive 3.694-second pass at 321.96 mph in their first round of eliminations to end the day for Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / RMT team and their 4.105 at 248.02.
The victory would line Force up with rival and four-time reigning champion Steve Torrence in the quarterfinals. Despite having solid reaction times throughout the start of the NHRA Camping World season, Force would come up short on a hole shot loss to Torrence. Force would handle the Flav-R-Pac dragster to a 3.709-second run at 330.31 mph with a .132 reaction time but be bettered by Torrence’s 3.710 at 325.92 with a .075 light.
“Tough day for this Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy team out here in a Phoenix. We qualified sixth and lined up with Austin Prock first round. We got past him but got beat in the second round. It was driver error. It’s tough – I got beat on a holeshot. We’ll pack up and head to the next one, put this one behind us and move forward.”
Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / RMT team have their race day cut short after their woes from qualifying follow them into first round. Qualified No. 11 and matched with teammate Brittany Force in the first round, Prock would pedal to a 4.105-second pass at 248.02 mph but it wouldn’t be enough for Force’s 3.671 at 333.49.
“Not the weekend we wanted but it was a weekend of growth. We learned a lot and had a tough first round match-up with Brittany. We had to go out there with our guns loaded and try to run a 3.65. We left hard and had the best sixty-foot on anyone all weekend, but the tires just came loose,” Prock said. “It was a good opportunity for me to learn and I got it to recover and got it down there. I learned a little bit on my end and the crew chiefs learned. We’re going to go to Gainesville and try to go to the finals again.”
The 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season continues March 11-13 with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.