CONCORD, N.C. – Funny Car driver Robert Hight made it back-to-back wins by kicking off the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs with a victory Sunday at the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts at zMAX Dragway.
Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the first of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Hight powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a run of 4.083 seconds at 312.64 mph to race to the holeshot victory against points leader Matt Hagan in the final round. Hagan had a quicker run of 4.066 in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger, but Hight posted a quicker reaction time (.055) to hang on for his second win in 2013 and 29th of his career.
Hight beat Chad Head, No. 1 qualifier Cruz Pedregon and teammate Courtney Force to reach the final round. It was also reminiscent of Hight’s 2009 win at zMAX Dragway where he beat Hagan in the final round and a daughter of team owner John Force (Ashley in 2009) in the semifinals en route to a world championship. Hight started that Countdown in 10th place and in similar fashion jumped all the way to third from his ninth place start with the victory on Sunday.
“We’re trying to pick up every point we can,” Hight said. “Not many people beat Matt Hagan on holeshots and that team has been No. 1 all year for a reason. That was a 40-point swing for me but we don’t have a whole lot of time to celebrate. We’re getting back at it again next week at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals in Dallas under a whole different set of circumstances and conditions. It will be a whole new ballgame.”
Hagan maintained the points lead in Funny Car and now holds an 82-point advantage over Ron Capps. Hight trails the Don Schumacher Racing standout by 86 points after continuing his momentum following his victory at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indy.
“We’ve pulled it all together and I’ve got a great team,” Hight said. “These guys aren’t leaving anything to chance and we’re clicking right now. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but we definitely did what we had to do (on Sunday). I’ve got some confidence, but we’ve got our hands full and our work cut out for us.”
Lucas also moved to third place on a wild day in Top Fuel topping new points leader Spencer Massey in the final round with a run of 3.788 at 317.49 in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster. Lucas, who now has nine career wins and two victories in the past four events, was able to hold off Massey’s run of 3.816 at 319.60 in his Battery Extender/Schumacher Electric dragster.
“It was just our weekend and our guys just continue to work really hard,” Lucas said. “I’m proud to see we’re getting out of the car what we put in. We feel comfortable knowing how to win races and put ourselves in that position, but we’re just trying to have fun and enjoy what we’ve got.”