Robert Hight continued John Force Racing's domination of the Funny Car category by racing to victory Sunday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also were winners at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Hight's victory, his second of the season, was the fifth in a row for the team, which included two wins to close the 2010 season by John Force and last month's Tire Kingdom Gatornationals victory by Mike Neff. Hight, who also won the season opening Kragen O'Reilly Winternationals, moved into the series lead with the win, his second at this event and 20th of his career.
Hight, who beat Jim Head, Jack Beckman and Cruz Pedregon in earlier rounds, held off Johnny Gray in the final round. Hight's Auto Club Ford Mustang covered the distance in 4.149 at 307.79 to edge Gray's Service Central Dodge Charger at the finish line, which ran 4.169 at 301.81.
“It's not getting any easier, but it's a lot of hard work,” Hight said. “If you let your guard down any little bit you are going to get beat. I had close side-by-side races in every round. In the final, Johnny Gray stepped up and made his best run of the weekend. There are no easy ones. Jim Head was right there in the first round. It makes it feel better when you can get a win like this. In this day and age in this competition, it's awesome. We've got to keep it going. This was the 199th career victory for John Force Racing and it would be great to get the 200th at Charlotte.”
Brown defeated Brandon Bernstein for the Top Fuel victory. It was Brown's 26th career victory (10th in Top Fuel) and first ever at this track. Brown posted a 3.887 at 318.84 in his Aaron's/Matco Tools dragster to cross the finish line in front of Bernstein's Copart dragster, which trailed with a 3.947 at 311.13.
“This car was great all weekend and it feels good to hit the jackpot here in Vegas,” said Brown, who beat Morgan Lucas, Tony Schumacher and Doug Kalitta to advance to the final round. “This weekend everything felt right. Our team just stepped up. We knew it was going to be cooler out there today and when we ran that (3.84) in the second round it really raised some eyebrows. We had to give it all we had and kept it going throughout eliminations. We got it done.”
Series leader Del Worsham lost in the semifinals and now leads Brown by eight points. Past multi-time world champs Tony Schumacher and Larry Dixon both lost in the second round and are third and fourth in the point standings, respectively.
Edwards claimed his first Pro Stock win of the season and second straight at this event by defeating rookie and first time finalist Vincent Nobile. Edwards ran 6.695 at 205.98 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to take his 29th career victory and hold off Nobile, who finished in 6.713 at 205.69 in his Mount View Tire Dodge Avenger.
The victory moves Edwards to fourth place in the point standings and helps erase a slow start to the season, which included a DNQ at Pomona.
“We started off pretty slow and pretty bad for us really," the 2009 world champ said. "We regrouped and came in here with a new car and made some tremendous runs all weekend. It's a total team effort. My guys did an awesome job all weekend. They gave me 110 percent and they never quit. I am so proud of them. It's a great win and we want to try to build on this and try to improve as much as we can and keep trying to run good and make good decisions.”
Edwards, who was the event's top qualifier, defeated Richard Freeman, Erica Enders and V. Gaines in the first three rounds. He said his car slowed a bit in the final and he was lucky to take the win over the Auto Club Road to the Future Award candidate.
“We were fortunate in the final because we made our worst run of the day,” Edwards said. “That Vincent Nobile is going to be quite a Pro Stock driver and he's a super talent. He's going to win some races and give us old guys a run for the money, I can tell you that.”
Pro Stock points leader Jason Line saw his early season winning streak end in the second round when he lost to Greg Stanfield. Line now leads Stanfield by 69 points.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues with the second annual VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 14-17 at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C.
1. Antron Brown; 2. Brandon Bernstein; 3. Doug Kalitta; 4. Del Worsham; 5. Tony Schumacher; 6. David Grubnic; 7. Spencer Massey; 8. Larry Dixon; 9. Morgan Lucas; 10. Bob Vandergriff; 11. Terry McMillen; 12. Steve Torrence; 13. Steve Faria; 14. Steven Chrisman; 15. Troy Buff; 16. Shawn Langdon.
1. Robert Hight; 2. Johnny Gray; 3. Cruz Pedregon; 4. Tony Pedregon; 5. Jack Beckman; 6. Ron Capps; 7. John Force; 8. Jeff Arend; 9. Jim Head; 10. Gary Densham; 11. Mike Neff; 12. Matt Hagan; 13. Tim Wilkerson; 14. Paul Lee; 15. Bob Bode; 16. Bob Tasca III.
1. Mike Edwards; 2. Vincent Nobile; 3. V. Gaines; 4. Greg Stanfield; 5. Jason Line; 6. Allen Johnson; 7. Erica Enders; 8. Shane Gray; 9. Ron Krisher; 10. Ronnie Humphrey; 11. Rodger Brogdon; 12. Greg Anderson; 13. Warren Johnson; 14. Larry Morgan; 15. Kurt Johnson; 16. Richard Freeman.