KENT, WA – July 23, 2018 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – In Robert Hight’s run to a 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship, his incredible weekend at Pacific Raceways was certainly one of the biggest highlights of his season. The Funny Car standout dominated on nearly every run en route to his first career victory at the facility, finishing the famed Western Swing on a brilliant note.
The impressive performance included making the quickest run in his 10,000-horsepower Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro on seven of the eight passes that weekend, and it’s something Hight hopes he can repeat at the 31st annual CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals, Aug. 3-5. Sitting fourth in the loaded Funny Car class with the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship fast approaching, Hight knows what another strong outing in Seattle can mean for his team.
“In Seattle, we dominated that race last year,” Hight said. “It gave us some momentum and we were on our way. That’s the goal. For some odd reason, once you have success at a race that confidence makes you better. That was our first time winning there and we want to win another one. We want to be consistent and continue to raise our performance. I think our consistency is right there and we have a good car. The last thing you want to be doing this time of year is searching for a combination. This is the time of year where we need to be at our best.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Hight (Funny Car), and Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and the FOX national broadcast network, including live final eliminations on FOX starting at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Aug. 5. It is the 16th of 24 events during the 2018 NHRA season and, sitting in the shadows of majestic Mount Rainier, it provides one of the most breathtaking environments on the NHRA circuit.
It was the perfect backdrop for one standout run after another last year for Hight, who qualified No. 1 at the race. The victory gave Hight two wins on the 2017 Western Swing and he started this year with a solid semifinal appearance on Sunday in Denver to kick off the three-race stretch. But Hight, who has one win this season, knows the importance of doing well during this span. It got him on track for his championship run a year ago, and he’s banking on building similar momentum in 2018.
“The Western Swing is my favorite time of the year,” said Hight, who has 42 career Funny Car wins. “I’m a West Coast guy and I like all the tracks. They’re all different and it’s that time of the year where you start thinking about the Countdown. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) said last year we better have our act together when we head out West and we did. We want to do that again and keep carrying that momentum through the rest of the year.”
To do it, Hight will have to get past a loaded field that includes Matt Hagan, who has three wins in 2018, Jack Beckman, two-time 2018 winner J.R. Todd, three-time event winner Tim Wilkerson and 2016 world champ Ron Capps. But Hight and the John Force Racing team have performed well in 2018, as John Force, an eight-time Seattle winner, won last weekend in Denver and Courtney Force has the points lead on the strength of four wins.
“There’s a lot of cars at every race that can win,” Hight said. “But the truth is, you can’t pay attention to what another team is doing. We can’t focus on what everyone else is doing. All of us (at John Force Racing) have to continue to work together as a team. If we do that together, the learning curve is way less for everyone.”
Brown is hoping for a spark in Seattle, as the three-time Top Fuel world champ is after his first win of 2018. He’ll face off against points leader Steve Torrence, who has five wins in 2018, Denver winner Leah Pritchett, Clay Millican, Doug Kalitta and defending world champ Brittany Force.
In Pro Stock, Skillman is also aiming for his first victory in 2018 after winning four times a year ago. To do so, he’ll have to get past talented drivers like points leader Greg Anderson, who won in Denver, defending world champ Bo Butner, Tanner Gray, Erica Enders and Chris McGaha.
The event features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series as well, showcasing the future stars of the sport, as well as the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series.
Those in attendance will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with a few of the most renowned names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This will feature meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. Legends scheduled to attend CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals include Pat Austin and more.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 3 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 4, at 1:30 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 253-639-5927. Tickets also are available online at www.pacificraceways.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, and E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association