Hight Blisters New England Asphalt
EPPING, N.H. – Robert Hight raced to the first three-second Funny Car run in New England Dragway history during Friday qualifying at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals.
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event where all eight track records were broken on a single day.
Hight, a four-time winner this season, powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a track record time of 3.988 seconds at 321.58 mph to take the qualifying lead in Funny Car. The run was completed on the final pass of the night in the category with Hight, the 2009 world champ, snatching the top spot from two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon.
“That was pretty awesome,” said Hight, the series points leader. “We made a nice run the first run. Mike Neff told me going up there we’re not going to be cowards tonight. We’re going to get after this thing. He honestly figured there were going to be others in the threes.”
Despite winning consistently in 2014, Hight has yet to record a No. 1 qualifier this season. If he is able to enter eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier, Hight will have claimed 46 in his career.
Pedregon, who has come to life following a slow start to the season with a win in Englishtown and a runner-up finish in Topeka, posted a 4.026 at 307.44 in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to briefly take over the top spot from Courtney Force. It was only a few runs later when Hight moved around Pedregon for the top spot.
Force reset the top speed record at New England Dragway with a run at 323.35 mph in her Traxxas Mustang. It was recorded as the fifth fastest speed for a Funny Car in NHRA history.
In Top Fuel, Brown raced to the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot with a 3.770 at 323.58 in his Matco Tools dragster, setting a track record for elapsed time during the second session.
“The track definitely had some teeth in it,” said Brown. “The first session we were actually on a good run, and we came back and just wanted to improve upon it. We definitely wanted to run lower than a .77. We wanted to run a low 3.7, but the track was so good. It had such great teeth on it that it sucked some of the tune-up out of the race car on the starting line.”