Robert Hight Powers To Funny Car ET and Speed Records During "Friday Night On Fire" at the Route 66 Nationals

A Furiously Fast Friday Night Nitro Session Wows Crowds

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Robert Hight track record, Friday Night at Route 66 Raceway, Photo Credit: Jerry Foss

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JOLIET, Ill. -- Robert Hight had just sat in his Funny Car right behind Jack Beckman and watched Fast Jack put up a 3.852 to break the Route 66 Raceway ET record.

Hight decided to one-up him.

Hight powered to the Funny Car qualifying lead during "Friday Night On Fire" qualifying Friday evening at the 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N Filters. Hight set both ends of the track record after a 3.851-second pass at 334.73 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS during the second qualifying session. He is aiming for his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and is currently chasing his first win of 2017.

“We had a pretty good idea that track records were going to fall this weekend, and the advancement of Funny Cars over the years allows us to put these exciting runs together for the fans,” Hight said. “If we are able to lock things down as well as we know we can, then in the night session tomorrow there is no reason we can’t improve these numbers.”

Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also provisional qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the 13th of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Jack Beckman landed second in Funny Car qualifying with a 3.856 at 330.23 in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. Courtney Force rounded out the top three in preliminary qualifying, notching a 3.880 at 331.36 in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro.

Force leads the Top Fuel category with a run of 3.711 at 323.04 in her Monster Energy dragster during her second pass of the day. She is searching for her first No. 1 qualifier on the year and seventh of her career.

“Our second run was pretty awesome, since it was a clean run and the conditions were perfect,” Force said. “Every run feels different, but I could tell from this second run that we would be shooting up the standings, and we have a time that we are going to try and improve upon tomorrow.”

Tony Schumacher sits second in the preliminary qualifying after a 3.758 at 325.37 in his U.S. Army dragster, while Shawn Langdon is third with a 3.759 at 319.37 in his Global Electronics dragster.

In Pro Stock, Gray currently holds the top spot after driving to a 6.591 at 208.84 in his Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro during the second session. He is looking for the second No. 1 qualifier of his rookie season.

“My team did a great job of working on my car and I feel like I had a better handle on my car than in Norwalk,” Gray said. “I know we have great horsepower and the guys at the shop put a great car out each week, and I know that if I drive well there is no reason that I can’t have success like this at each event.”

Greg Anderson is second in preliminary qualifying after a 6.600 at 209.20 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. Drew Skillman is in the third spot with a 6.605 at 208.04 in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro during his second qualifying pass.

Smith finished atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying order with an elapsed time track record 6.829 at 195.19 in his second pass of the day. He is aiming for his 26th career No. 1 qualifier and his second consecutive this season.

“The last two races have been awesome for us, especially getting the No. 1 qualifier in Norwalk the last time out,” Smith said. “It’s good to come here and be No. 1 and prove that we could do it again, but I think we are here to stay this year and we will make a run at the championship.”

Scotty Pollacheck is in the No. 2 slot after a 6.883 at 193.65 in his Extended Protection Suzuki during his second pass of the day, while Hector Arana Jr. sits at third with a 6.884 at 194.97 in his Lucas Oil Buell.

Qualifying at the 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N Filters continues at 3:15 and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday at Route 66 Raceway.