Hight Goes Back To Back in Funny Car

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 1 2022

Robert Hight is perfect in the 2022 NHRA season.

Robert Hight’s bid for a fourth NHRA Funny Car world championship is off to a perfect start.  

Hight rolled to his second consecutive victory Sunday, trailering Matt Hagan in a marquee final-round matchup at the 37th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals. Hight’s victory at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., marked the first time the 52-year-old Californian has started a season with back-to-back victories.

Hight opened the 22-race 2022 schedule with a victory in the 62nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., on Feb. 20.

The No. 2 qualifier in Arizona, Hight prevailed over fellow-three-time world champ Hagan in the final by covering the 1,000-foot distance in 3.837-seconds at 330.39 mph. Pole-sitter Hagan, who was hoping to give new NHRA team-owner Tony Stewart his first series victory, ran 4.045-seconds at 267.00 mph after shutting off near the 600-foot mark.

Hight’s Chevrolet Camaro SS racked-up consistent runs in the 3.80s during all four elimination rounds to power past Paul Lee, Bob Tasca III and teammate/car-owner John Force to reach the final. Hight recorded the quickest run of eliminations during the final to secure his 55th career victory.

“We’ve got a lot of great guys on this team, and it was such a team effort,” said Hight, who posted his third win at the facility outside Phoenix. “(Crew chief) Jimmy Prock, Chris Cunningham and all these guys worked hard all winter and it’s all coming together.

“It’s so hard to win one of these, much less two in a row. In this day and age, that’s amazing and it’s a big win for this team. We made seven runs in the 3.80s this weekend (including qualifying), so that’s pretty impressive. I’m very fortunate to get to drive this car. This is what you dream about, but it’s not going to get any easier with so many great drivers in this class.”

Mike Salinas (Top Fuel) and Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) also emerged victorious at the second of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

“I still feel that the Funny Car class is the toughest class out here,” said Hight, whose day job is president of John Force Racing in Yorba Linda, Calif. “If you look back to this strong string of runs that we’re on _ five in a row at Auto Club Raceway in the .80s, come here and have seven runs in the .80s _ that’s pretty impressive what Jimmy and Chris and the whole Auto Club team came up with over the winter.

“Even (Sunday) when the track was 107 degrees and we went up there and ran .84, you don’t surprise Jimmy very often, and that run surprised him. And it surprised me, too.”

Hagan, who won his three Funny Car titles with Don Schumacher Racing, wrapped up a solid weekend in Stewart’s Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat. Hagan set the track record in qualifying and advanced to the final for the 72nd time in his career via round-wins against Terry Haddock, Alexis DeJoria and Tim Wilkerson.

“What a wonderful weekend here in Arizona. It’s just special here,” Hagan said. “I would’ve loved to have gotten the first win here for Tony Stewart Racing with Tony and (Top Fuel teammate) Leah Pruett and with everybody from our Radford (Racing) family.

“What I’m most proud of this weekend is my guys. They made quick turnarounds. Nothing was falling off the race car. They’re gelling really well and things are starting to flow. That’s huge to me, as that builds confidence. I know what (crew chief) Dickie Venables is capable of. I know we’re going to win a lot of races and get a lot of trophies and the big picture on our mind is that championship. There’s still a learning curve, but one thing about Dickie, he learns fast and he’s very methodical about what we do.

“I feel good with our lights and the way the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat is running and driving. I know Robert Hight has pulled off two wins now, but it’s just a matter of time before we start pulling in wins for TSR over here.”

The series returns to action March 10-13 with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Florida. The Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout specialty race also will take place at the traditional opening event on the East Coast.


Working his second race with a new crew chief, Mike Salinas scored an impressive victory in Top Fuel. The owner/driver of the Scrappers Racing dragster, Salinas covered the 1,000-foot distance in 3.751-seconds at 318.24 mph to knock off Clay Millican in the final.

Salinas earned his fourth career victory and second in his last five races dating to last season, when the California businessman finished a career-best third in points. With veteran crew chief Rob Flynn calling the shots, Salinas defeated Jim Maroney, Shawn Langdon and four-time/reigning world champ Steve Torrence to reach the final. Salinas, who put together three runs in the 3.60s en route to the final, also took over the point lead from NHRA Winternationals winner Justin Ashley.

“We went through quite a bit to get the right synergy,” said Salinas, a 60-year-old resident of San Jose, Calif. “This NHRA racing, it’s a tough game. If you don’t have all the parts and pieces to keep it in place, you’re not going to do very well. Rob is a brilliant man, very calm and relaxed and calculated. He told me he’ll see me in the finals.

“If you look at our runs, I was blown away. There’s a lot of good stuff going with this team. I’m very confident in where we’re going and what we’re doing, and these guys on this team are something special. I know we can run with these guys in this (Top Fuel) class, and I know we can beat them.”

Millican, who reached two final rounds in 2021, advanced to his 19th career final via wins against Tripp Tatum, eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher and Josh Hart.


One week after advancing to the Winternationals final, Aaron Stanfield finished the job In Pro Stock during an all-Elite Motorsports matchup. Stanfield covered the quarter-mile in 6.526-seconds at 210.50 mph in his Chevrolet Camaro SS to beat teammate Troy Coughlin Jr.’s 6.539 at 210.24.

Stanfield scored his fifth career win and first in Phoenix, as well as the first victory since he became a first-time father last week. After qualifying second for the second straight week, Stanfield defeated Alan Prusiensky, five-time/reigning world champ Greg Anderson and Mason McGaha to reach the final.

Stanfield recorded a 6.503-second lap against Anderson _ quickest run in the Factory Hot Rod class in two years _ en route to capping a memorable two weeks.

“All weekend we had a good hot rod, and I did just good enough every round as a driver to win,” said Stanfield, a 27-year-old resident of Bossier City, La. “I can’t thank the guys at Elite enough. I don’t think you could write (the last two weeks) any better than this. There’s been a lot of emotions and a lot of great memories, and I’m just really thankful for all of it.

“If I can perform well on the starting line, we’ve got a car and a team that’s tough to beat. It’s a long season, but we’ve got a lot of big goals and we’ll see what we can do.”

Making his first appearance at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Coughlin Jr. advanced to his third career final by defeating Matt Hartford, Deric Kramer and No. 1 qualifier Kyle Koretsky.

Meanwhile, the event saw Pro Stock rookie Camrie Caruso secure the first round-win in her second professional start. Caruso drove her Powerbuilt Tools Camaro to the No. 8 spot in qualifying, her second consecutive top-half effort. With lane-choice against Cristian Cuadra in the opening round, Caruso ran 6.538-seconds at 210.08 mph to eliminate Cuadra’s Corral Boots Ford Mustang.

Caruso never trailed during the lap and became just the third female to win a round in NHRA Pro Stock competition.

“The round-win was good and exciting. I’m glad we got that out of the way,” said Caruso, 23, who is working with crew chief Jim Yates, a two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champ. “I have a great team with Mike Smith and the (Titan Racing) engine program, Jim Yates as my crew chief and the support of all my family. That kind of support has definitely helped the program move forward.”


Final finishing order (1-16) at the 37th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz. The race was the second of 22 events on the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule:

Top Fuel _ 1. Mike Salinas; 2. Clay Millican; 3. Josh Hart; 4. Steve Torrence; 5. Brittany Force; 6. Shawn Langdon; 7. Tony Schumacher; 8. Rob Passey; 9. Leah Pruett; 10. Antron Brown; 11. Jim Maroney; 12. Justin Ashley; 13. Austin Prock; 14. Tripp Tatum; 15. Doug Kalitta; 16. Doug Foley.

Funny Car _ 1. Robert Hight; 2. Matt Hagan; 3. Tim Wilkerson; 4. John Force; 5. Ron Capps; 6. Cruz Pedregon; 7. Bob Tasca III; 8. Alexis DeJoria; 9. Chad Green; 10. Jim Campbell; 11. Terry Haddock; 12. J.R. Todd; 13. Bobby Bode; 14. Jeff Arend; 15. Jeff Diehl; 16. Paul Lee.

Pro Stock _ 1. Aaron Stanfield; 2. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 3. Kyle Koretsky; 4. Mason McGaha; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Deric Kramer; 7. Camrie Caruso; 8. Erica Enders; 9. Dallas Glenn; 10. Rodger Brogdon; 11. Chris McGaha; 12. Cristian Cuadra; 13. John Cerbone; 14. Matt Hartford; 15. Bo Butner; 16. Alan Prusiensky. 

Final class results from the 37th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals:

Top Fuel _ Mike Salinas, 3.751-seconds, 318.24 mph def. Clay Millican, 3.769-seconds, 322.73 mph.

Funny Car _ Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.837, 330.39 def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.045, 267.00.

Pro Stock _ Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 6.526, 210.50 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.539, 210.24.

Super Stock _ Ryan McClanahan, Chevy Cobalt, 21.649, 46.98 def. Larry McLanahan, Ford Mustang, Broke/No Show.

Stock Eliminator _ Leo Glasbrenner, Chevy Camaro, 9.414, 136.28 def. Jeff Jerome, Plymouth Savoy, 10.164, 130.24.

Super Comp _ Dan Foley, Dragster, 8.901, 174.44 def. James Glenn, Dragster, 8.905, 175.09.

Super Gas _ Mark Yeager, Chevy Corvette, 9.905, 169.53 def. Mike Boehner, Chevy Camaro, 9.924, 151.17.

Super Street _ Matthew Bong, Ford Mustang, 10.901, 136.65 def. Troy Grant, Chevy Nova, 10.882, 141.62.

Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers _ Art Hoover, Dragster, 6.428, 207.30 def. Rodger Comstock, Dragster, 7.187, 185.97.

Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers _ Don Meziere, Chevy Cobalt, 6.909, 162.14 def. Mike Ferderer, Pontiac Grand Am, Broke.

Final round-by-round results from the 37th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals:


ROUND ONE _ Shawn Langdon, 3.699, 330.47 def. Antron Brown, 3.742, 321.42; Brittany Force, 3.671, 333.49 def. Austin Prock, 4.105, 248.02; Tony Schumacher, 3.892, 263.41 def. Justin Ashley, 4.026, 303.57; Rob Passey, 4.318, 263.62 def. Doug Kalitta, 5.606, 182.01; Mike Salinas, 3.671, 331.12 def. Jim Maroney, 3.977, 257.48; Steve Torrence, 3.686, 328.14 def. Doug Foley, 12.043, 75.60; Clay Millican, 3.768, 320.28 def. Tripp Tatum, 5.289, 115.87; Josh Hart, 3.705, 332.10 def. Leah Pruett, 3.699, 330.07; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Hart, 3.787, 319.14 def. Passey, 7.889, 85.22; Torrence, 3.710, 325.92 def. Force, 3.709, 330.31; Salinas, 3.692, 330.55 def. Langdon, 3.726, 328.54; Millican, 3.752, 325.85 def. Schumacher, 4.993, 138.83; 

SEMIFINALS _ Millican, 3.693, 330.15 def. Hart, 3.739, 329.02; Salinas, 3.693, 322.19 def. Torrence, 5.981, 121.76; 

FINAL _ Salinas, 3.751, 318.24 def. Millican, 3.769, 322.73. 


ROUND ONE _ Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.870, 328.30 def. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 5.051, 150.97; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.250, 211.93 def. Jeff Arend, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.950, 116.09; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.864, 329.42 def. Paul Lee, Dodge Charger, 9.484, 65.48; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.850, 332.26 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.063, 277.43; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.310, 213.74 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 6.087, 116.66; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.849, 331.20 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.029, 311.20; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.915, 327.51 def. Chad Green, Mustang, 3.946, 320.81; Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, 3.944, 324.59 def. J.R. Todd, Supra, 4.303, 285.41; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Wilkerson, 3.856, 331.45 def. Pedregon, 3.905, 326.71; Hagan, 3.864, 329.91 def. DeJoria, 3.941, 324.44; Force, 3.902, 329.42 def. Capps, 3.869, 327.74; Hight, 3.855, 330.55 def. Tasca III, 3.922, 332.84; 

SEMIFINALS _ Hagan, 3.875, 332.18 def. Wilkerson, 3.857, 333.16; Hight, 3.847, 326.63 def. Force, 7.231, 86.59; 

FINAL _ Hight, 3.837, 330.39 def. Hagan, 4.045, 267.00. 


ROUND ONE _ Camrie Caruso, Chevy Camaro, 6.538, 210.08 def. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.559, 209.95; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 33.781, 186.74 def. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.547, 208.81 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.555, 209.10; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.537, 210.18 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.571, 209.01; Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.525, 210.97 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.564, 208.55; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.544, 210.73 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.549, 208.49; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.528, 210.24 def. John Cerbone, Camaro, 6.560, 209.56; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.503, 211.23 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, Foul/Red Light; 

QUARTERFINALS _ M. McGaha, 6.574, 208.88 def. Enders, 6.570, 209.72; Koretsky, 6.555, 210.24 def. Caruso, 6.566, 209.98; Coughlin Jr., 6.558, 210.01 def. Kramer, 6.557, 209.26; Stanfield, 6.534, 210.83 def. Anderson, 6.537, 209.33; 

SEMIFINALS _ Coughlin Jr., 6.575, 210.18 def. Koretsky, 6.561, 209.46; Stanfield, 6.538, 210.21 def. M. McGaha, 10.278, 88.10; 

FINAL _ Stanfield, 6.526, 210.50 def. Coughlin Jr., 6.539, 210.24.

Point standings (top-10) following the 37th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals:

Top Fuel _1. Mike Salinas, 181; 2. Justin Ashley, 159; 3. Steve Torrence, 152; 4. Brittany Force, 139; 5. Josh Hart, 125; 6. Austin Prock, 123; 7. Clay Millican, 122; 8. Tony Schumacher, 89; 9. Shawn Langdon, 86; 10. Antron Brown, 80.

Funny Car _1. Robert Hight, 247; 2. Matt Hagan, 182; 3. Ron Capps, 159; 4. Cruz Pedregon, 131; 5. Tim Wilkerson, 110; 6. Alexis DeJoria, 106; 7. (tie) John Force, 104; Bob Tasca III, 104; 9. J.R. Todd, 86; 10. Jim Campbell, 64.

Pro Stock _1. Aaron Stanfield, 224; 2. Erica Enders, 188; 3. Greg Anderson, 133; 4. Troy Coughlin Jr., 126; 5. Kyle Koretsky, 119; 6. Deric Kramer, 110; 7. Mason McGaha, 103; 8. (tie) Bo Butner, 86; Camrie Caruso, 86; 10. Dallas Glenn, 85.

(Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1997) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients has included Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service and Ford Racing).

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 1 2022
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