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Colorado Win Has Put Hight’s Sites On Western Sweep

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, July 24 2017

Robert Hight ended a lengthy winless streak on Sunday when he earned the Funny Car Wally in the rarified air of the Colorado foothills. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

Robert Hight’s Funny Car victory Sunday in the opening race of the NHRA’s annual summertime Western Swing immediately left the John Force Racing ace thinking 1-2-3 sweep!

Hight’s win over Tommy Johnson Jr. at the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway was his first of the 2017 season, fourth on “The Mountain” in Morrison, Colo., and 38th of his career.

“It’s been a while. I think we’re back,” said Hight, the 2009 world champion and son-in-law of team-owner/16-time world champ John Force.  Hight covered the 1,000-foot distance at the facility near Denver in 3.995-seconds at 317.57 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS to trailer Johnson,  who 4.099/297.16 in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T.

Hight’s win marked the 13th consecutive season in which he has earned at least one victory and locked up a spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, a special race held during the prestigious 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend.

Hight now has a chance to sweep the Western Swing, the three-race stretch that includes the 30th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals in California next weekend and the 30th Northwest Nationals in Kent, Wash., Aug. 4-6.

“Our performance is there,” said Hight, who qualified third on a ladder of 14 cars, two short of the maximum 16. “We run really well, we qualify well. We just haven’t raced well on Sunday _ and we haven’t had any luck. Today we got some luck, and we needed it. This is a big time of the year and my favorite time of the year _ the Western Swing. I’m from the West Coast and it’s three awesome races, three great racetracks in a row. It’s a big deal to sweep ‘The Swing.’ You can’t sweep ‘The Swing’ unless you win Denver, and we did that.”

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were victorious in their respective categories at the 14th of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Hight defeated Todd Simpson, 2012 world champion Jack Beckman of DSR and two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon before reaching his third final of the season. Johnson qualified 12th and took down point-leader and reigning world champ Ron Capps of DSR, rookie Jonnie Lindberg and Jim Campbell en route to his third final round of the year and second in a row.

Hight moved to third in the standings, while Capps and two-time world champ Matt Hagan of DSR retained their positions in the top two.

 

In Top Fuel, Brown knocked off DSR teammate and No. 1 qualifier Leah Pritchett in the final with a 1,000-foot pass of 3.792-seconds at 319.82 mph. After having lost his three previous final-round appearances, Brown now has three victories on the season and 64 in his career.

“This race definitely put us through a marathon this weekend, but seeing those win lights makes it all worthwhile,” said Brown, the three-time/reigning world champion and driver of the Matco Tools dragster. “Next year when we come out we know the bar will be raised even more at this track with all of this information all of these drivers learned this weekend, but we feel like we have a good idea how to get things done in Denver.”

Brown moved past  Pritchett to take the second spot in the standings, while Steve Torrence remains in first after a quarterfinal appearance.

In Pro Stock, Skillman drove to victory with a quarter-mile pass in 6.916-seconds at 198.15 mph in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro to defeat point-leader Bo Butner in the final. Skillman has won back-to-back events and now has five career victories.

Skillman was the No. 1 qualifier and maintained that success with round-wins over Richie Stevens and three-time world champion Jason Line on the way to his second consecutive victory. Butner qualified ninth and took down 2012 world champion Allen Johnson, Vincent Nobile and two-time world champ Erica Enders before reaching his sixth final of the season _ tied for the most in the “Factory Hot Rod” category.

“Our car kept running the same numbers, which is the sign of a good car and a great team,” Skillman said. “We’ve finally figured out a way to put it all together and as long as we stay aggressive as a team we know we can win.”

Skillman sits seventh in the standings as the first Pro Stock driver to win back-to-back races in 2017, while Butner remained in first following his runnerup result in the Butler Auto Chevy. Four-time world champion Greg Anderson and rookie Tanner Gray round out the top three in the standings.

Krawiec finished atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle ladder with a quarter-mile pass in 7.145-seconds at 188.28 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod to defeat Matt Smith and his Victory Gunner in the final. After notching his 35th career pole on Saturday, Krawiec earned his second victory of the season and 38th of his career.

Krawiec defeated David Hope, Joey Gladstone and Scotty Pollacheck as he locked down his third final- round appearance this season. Smith, a two-time world champ, qualified third and defeated wife Angie Smith, five-time world champion Andrew Hines and reigning world champ Jerry Savoie as he secured his second final appearance in 2017.

“We’ve gotten off to a slow start since we had to switch bikes (from H-D V-Rod to Street Rod), so we were behind in terms of figuring out the strengths of this new bike and how it works,” Krawiec said. “We really like where we are at currently, and we’re going to try and keep this momentum going on the West Coast.”

 

A three-time world champion, Krawiec remains in second in points following his second victory in seven events, while 2010 world champ LE Tonglet sits atop the standings despite a quarterfinal exit aboard his Suzuki.

The season continues with the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway July 28-30.

Final finishing order (1-16) at the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo.:

Top Fuel _ 1.  Antron Brown; 2.  Leah Pritchett; 3.  Tony Schumacher; 4.  Brittany Force; 5.  Doug Kalitta; 6.  Clay Millican; 7.  Steve Torrence; 8.  Terry Haddock; 9.  Scott Palmer; 10.  Bob Vandergriff Jr.; 11.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 12.  Steven Chrisman; 13.  Greg Carrillo; 14.  Shawn Langdon; 15.  Rob Passey; 16.  Terry McMillen.

Funny Car _ 1.  Robert Hight; 2.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 3.  Cruz Pedregon; 4.  Jim Campbell; 5.  Matt Hagan; 6.  J.R. Todd; 7.  Jack Beckman; 8.  Jonnie Lindberg; 9.  Ron Capps; 10.  Alexis DeJoria; 11.  Tim Wilkerson; 12.  Courtney Force; 13.  Jeff Diehl; 14.  John Force; 15.  Todd Simpson; 16.  Del Worsham.

Pro Stock _ 1.  Drew Skillman; 2.  Bo Butner; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  Erica Enders; 5.  Vincent Nobile; 6.  Greg Anderson; 7.  Chris McGaha; 8.  Tanner Gray; 9.  Allen Johnson; 10.  Alan Prusiensky; 11.  Richie Stevens; 12.  Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 13.  Deric Kramer; 14.  Matt Hartford.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1.  Eddie Krawiec; 2.  Matt Smith; 3.  Jerry Savoie; 4.  Scotty Pollacheck; 5.  Hector Arana Jr; 6.  Andrew Hines; 7.  LE Tonglet; 8.  Joey Gladstone; 9.  Angelle Sampey; 10.  Melissa Surber; 11.  Karen Stoffer; 12.  Cory Reed; 13.  Mike Berry; 14.  Angie Smith; 15.  David Hope; 16.  Steve Johnson.

Sunday’s final results from the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals:

Top Fuel _ Antron Brown, 3.792-seconds, 319.82 mph  def. Leah Pritchett, 3.816-seconds, 324.90 mph.

Funny Car _ Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.995, 317.57  def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.099, 297.16.

Pro Stock _ Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.916, 198.15  def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.953, 198.88.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.145, 188.28  def. Matt Smith, Victory, Foul/Red Light.

Competition Eliminator _ David Rampy, Roadster, 7.720, 166.46  def. Jessie Oman, Dragster, 7.328, 183.42.

Super Stock _ Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 11.122, 116.46  def. Justin Jenkins, Chevy Cobalt, 10.298, 131.88.

Stock Eliminator _ Kevin Helms, Dodge Challenger, 11.296, 106.82  def. Scott Wells, Chevy Camaro, 12.624, 105.54.

Super Comp _ Kris Whitfield, Roadster, 9.544, 149.70  def. Gary Wamboldt, Dragster, 9.515, 154.03.

Super Gas _ Bradley Johnson, Chevy Camaro, 10.464, 152.18  def. Morgan Minor, Roadster, 10.432, 145.97.

Super Street _ Troy Grant, Chevy II, 11.553, 124.60  def. John Bianco, Chevy, 11.499, 140.07.

Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com _ Brad Basgall, Dragster, 6.901, 191.08  def. Jason Covington, Dragster, 6.679, 206.13.

Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com _ Randy Cruickshank, Chevy Corvette, 8.209, 134.63  def. Bud Preuss, Camaro, Foul/Red Light.

Final round-by-round results from the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals:

TOP FUEL

ROUND ONE _ Antron Brown, 3.837, 321.27 def. Scott Palmer, 3.861, 318.02; Brittany Force, 3.915, 255.15 def. Terry McMillen, 4.672, 172.54; Steve Torrence, 3.814, 325.06 def. Rob Passey, 4.627, 199.17; Leah Pritchett, 3.797, 321.58 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.966, 256.31; Doug Kalitta, 3.827, 320.20 def. Greg Carrillo, 4.344, 281.01; Tony Schumacher, 3.837, 323.97 def. Steven Chrisman, 4.240, 238.09; Terry Haddock, 4.171, 280.31 def. Shawn Langdon, 4.393, 247.07; Clay Millican, 3.798, 315.19 def. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 3.866, 311.99;

QUARTERFINALS _ Schumacher, 3.806, 325.37 def. Haddock, 10.469, 90.44; Brown, 3.796, 315.34 def. Kalitta, 3.814, 324.75; Force, 3.806, 321.58 def. Torrence, 3.972, 294.56; Pritchett, 3.817, 320.28 def. Millican, 3.927, 254.47;

SEMIFINALS _ Pritchett, 3.794, 323.43 def. Schumacher, 3.790, 324.36; Brown, 3.797, 317.12 def. Force, 4.459, 163.10;

FINAL _ Brown, 3.792, 319.82 def. Pritchett, 3.816, 324.90.

FUNNY CAR

ROUND ONE _ Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 13.653, 71.60 def. Todd Simpson, Dodge Charger, Foul /Red Light; Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.260, 239.53 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.271, 242.67; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.102, 310.55 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.339, 247.66; Jonnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 4.043, 319.14 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.292, 303.71; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.040, 311.20 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.017, 311.99; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.027, 320.20 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.056, 316.90; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.463, 205.35 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 7.416, 103.46; J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.072, 316.30 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.203, 263.98;

QUARTERFINALS _ Pedregon, 4.053, 291.01 def. Hagan, 4.057, 313.95; Johnson Jr., 4.052, 301.87 def. Lindberg, 4.471, 210.80; Hight, 4.146, 305.22 def. Beckman, 4.319, 289.63; Campbell, 4.084, 286.92 def. Todd, 4.198, 301.60;

SEMIFINALS _ Hight, 4.068, 314.24 def. Pedregon, 4.089, 308.28; Johnson Jr., 3.988, 306.19 def. Campbell, 4.768, 176.35;

FINAL _ Hight, 3.995, 317.57 def. Johnson Jr., 4.099, 297.16.

PRO STOCK

ROUND ONE _ Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 7.010, 196.19 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 15.928, 61.08; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.995, 197.36 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.995, 196.87; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.965, 197.51 def. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.952, 198.64; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.979, 197.31 def. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 10.316, 116.95; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.961, 197.39 def. Richie Stevens, Dart, 7.066, 195.34; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.975, 197.97 def. Deric Kramer, Dart, 12.495, 70.79; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.983, 198.06 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 7.041, 195.68;

QUARTERFINALS _ Enders, 6.978, 198.29 def. McGaha, Foul/Red Light; Butner, 6.947, 198.26 def. Nobile, 6.949, 198.90; Line, 6.942, 198.70 def. Anderson, 6.950, 198.35; Skillman, 6.925, 198.41 was unopposed;

SEMIFINALS _ Butner, 6.948, 198.47 def. Enders, Foul /Red Light; Skillman, 6.952, 197.80 def. Line, 6.953, 198.67;

FINAL _ Skillman, 6.916, 198.15 def. Butner, 6.953, 198.88.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

ROUND ONE _ Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.239, 183.69 def. Cory Reed, 7.307, 181.35; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.235, 184.07 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, Foul/Red Light; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.263, 184.14 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 7.287, 183.64; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.197, 186.85 def. Angelle Sampey, 7.256, 183.32; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 7.201, 184.72 def. Mike Berry, Buell, Foul/Red Light; Matt Smith, Victory, 7.214, 186.02 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 7.326, 183.34; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.158, 188.17 def. David Hope, Buell, 7.358, 182.75; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 7.198, 186.54 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.398, 178.73;

QUARTERFINALS _ Pollacheck, 7.195, 184.19 def. Tonglet, 7.254, 184.27; Savoie, 7.192, 184.72 def. Arana Jr, 7.185, 186.38; M. Smith, 7.240, 183.72 def. Hines, 7.195, 186.77; Krawiec, 7.181, 187.03 def. Gladstone, 7.261, 184.37;

SEMIFINALS _ M. Smith, 7.220, 184.93 def. Savoie, 7.203, 184.95; Krawiec, 7.191, 186.46 def. Pollacheck, 7.234, 183.59;

FINAL _ Krawiec, 7.145, 188.28 def. M. Smith, Foul/Red Light.

Point standings (top-10) following the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals:

Top Fuel _1.  Steve Torrence, 1,253*; 2.  Antron Brown, 1,199*; 3.  Leah Pritchett, 1,183*; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 974; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 873; 6.  Brittany Force, 871; 7.  Clay Millican, 826; 8.  Terry McMillen, 541; 9.  Scott Palmer, 528; 10.  Troy Coughlin Jr., 496.

Funny Car _1.  Ron Capps, 1,244*; 2.  Matt Hagan, 1,058*; 3.  Robert Hight, 973; 4.  Jack Beckman, 970; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 925; 6.  Courtney Force, 793; 7.  John Force, 757; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 634; 9.  J.R. Todd, 612; 10.  Cruz Pedregon, 538.

Pro Stock _1.  Bo Butner, 1,240*; 2.  Greg Anderson, 1,066*; 3.  Tanner Gray, 976; 4.  Jason Line, 931; 5.  Jeg Coughlin Jr., 888; 6.  Erica Enders, 863; 7.  Drew Skillman, 823; 8.  Vincent Nobile, 781; 9.  Chris McGaha, 540; 10.  Allen Johnson, 514.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1.  LE Tonglet, 658*; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 584; 3.  Hector Arana Jr., 483; 4.  Scotty Pollacheck, 455; 5.  Jerry Savoie, 453; 6.  Andrew Hines, 403; 7.  Matt Smith, 398; 8.  Joey Gladstone, 363; 9.  Karen Stoffer, 323; 10.  Steve Johnson, 284.

*_ Clinched spot among the top-10 for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, July 24 2017
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