“You can’t rely on history to repeat itself, you have to do the work and make the wins happen,” said Hight, a two-time winner at the Motorplex. “My crew chief Mike Neff and my crew guys are giving me a great race car. I am trying to give them my best driving performance every time I get in this Ford Mustang Funny Car.”
The competition in the Funny Car category is extremely intense. A talented field of challengers, including former Motorplex winner Capps, defending world champ Beckman, ultra-quick Cruz Pedregon, 15-time world champ John Force, Del Worsham, Johnny Gray and two-time season winner Courtney Force, all will be trying to reel in Hagan and knock Hight off his current stride in Big D.
“Our team is better than a second-round finish,” said Capps, a four-time title runner-up who is seeking his first world championship crown. “We know that. A lot of points moved around (at Charlotte). Hagan has moved out there pretty good, so we’re going to have to go to Dallas and battle back.”
Although he didn’t win, two-time Pro Stock world champ Jason Line made the biggest statement in Charlotte, by powering his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro to the No. 1 qualifying position and a runner-up finish. He moved to third in the standings and is now within striking position in the playoffs after enduring a lackluster regular season that produced only one victory and zero top qualifying positions.
“There is a lot at stake right now, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to try to win this thing,” Line said. “Team Summit is rejuvenated, and it feels good to have a competitive car again.”
Four-time world champ Jeg Coughlin proved that he can rise to the occasion in big moments when he defeated Line in the final round using a reaction time advantage. He moved to second in the standings in his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger and likes where he stands, but realizes there are still five playoff races left.
“We’re going to race Dallas as if it was the first race in the playoffs because even though we got off to a great start, there’s still a long way to go,” Coughlin said. “There are a lot of extremely talented and hungry drivers in the mix and we can’t let up at all.”
A few of those challengers in Pro Stock include season-long points leader Mike Edwards, defending world champ and AAA Texas FallNationals winner Allen Johnson, three-time season winner Vincent Nobile and local favorite Erica Enders-Stevens, who was runner-up here one year ago.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana Jr. leads the two-wheel class with four wins aboard his Lucas Oil Buell, while battling a tough group of challengers, including two-time season winner and New Braunfels, Texas rider Ray and his Sovereign-Star Racing Buell, Matt Smith, John Hall, defending world champ Eddie Krawiec and Charlotte runner-up Hector Arana Sr. Three-time world champ Andrew Hines, who is not in the Countdown to the Championship, won the playoff opener on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
Category top seed and points leader Arana Jr. lost in the semifinals at Charlotte to father Arana Sr. on a red-light start, but says in the overall scheme of things, he’s still right where he needs to be, out front, 33 ahead of second place Matt Smith.
“It’s about going rounds,” Arana Jr. said. “The most important thing is winning the first and second rounds, because you can’t always win them all.”