The ‘Prock Rocket’. That is a moniker given Robert Hight’s Funny Car due to veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock’s proficiency for producing huge speeds. However, just as inconsistency plagued this duo in 2009, it has once again reared its ugly head in 2013. Still, the prognosis may not be that bad. Hight and Prock barely edged their way in to the Countdown four years ago before the Prock Rocket took off during the playoffs and they ended up with the championship. Might they be on the same course this season?
John Force Racing has one of the best financed teams in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and certainly all the parts, pieces and personnel are theirs to win a title. Yet the team as a whole has struggled at times this year, though John in particular appears to be on an upswing and in fifth place right now thanks in a large part to his crew chief Mike Neff (see related articles). Courtney Force (again, see related articles below) has had an on and off year and sits seventh, while her teammate and brother-in-law Robert Hight is outside the Top 10 and not currently qualified for the Countdown.
As a note, the NHRA playoffs or Countdown to the Championship is the final six events of the year with the Top 10 in each professional category earning the right to battle for the title. The teams have five races left to work their way into the Top 10, beginning with the three-race Western Swing which starts this week in Denver. So back to our question: Will Hight be able to fight his way into the Top 10 and then win the championship?
On outside looking in
Well, first off, Hight is 11th only three points behind 10th place Bob Tasca, 48 points behind ninth place Del Worsham and 65 markers behind the eighth spot held by Tim Wilkerson. 136 points back of Courtney means Hight will likely be fighting Tasca, Worsham and Wilkerson for the final three positions in the playoffs.
Hight and Prock’s Funny Car is one of those cars that can get on a streak and when they do, it’s all over for the rest of the field. In 2009, it took their team until the final race of the regular season at Indianapolis for them to clinch their way into the Countdown. That year, Hight produced three victories out of the six playoff events to win the championship, beating out his teammate Ashley Force Hood.
The seemingly hyper Hight governs the company with the same tenacity he has for driving. As guardian of all that is John Force Racing, Hight gives the impression he has everything in order company-wise, while taking some of the pressure off the patriarch of the company, John Force. Hight, who is married to John’s oldest daughter Adria (company CFO), was named president of John Force Racing in 2011 and there’s been talk that the extra responsibility has taken Hight off his game. However, the performance of the car really goes back to the crew chief Jimmy Prock, who appears to have an all-or-nothing tune on their Funny Car.
Winning is the norm at John Force Racing and even though Hight and Prock are on the outside looking in right now, the expectations are that their Funny Car will be in the Top 10 when the Countdown begins. And if 2013 is anything like 2009 and they get hot, another championship could be in the offing.
Sources: NHRA, John Force Racing