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Robert Hight, Austin Prock Double Up at Four-Wide Nationals

For the second time in their careers, Robert Hight and the Flav-R-Pac / Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team and Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Chevrolet Top Fuel dragster team swept the nitro categories picking up victories in their respective categories Sunday at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway. John Force and the BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevrolet Camaro SS had a semifinal finish while Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster had a quarterfinal exit.

The win would mark Hight’s second win of the season, 63rd of his career, seventh overall at zMAX Dragway and third at the Four-Wide Nationals. It will also be the final 2023 race Hight will wear the Flav-R-Pac colors. On the Top Fuel side, the victory was Prock’s first of the season, first at any Four-Wide event and fourth of his career. It was also the first Top Fuel win for Chris Cunningham as a lead crew chief.

Robert Hight and the Flav-R-Pac Camaro kept up the consistency from qualifying with a solid 3.926-second pass at 329.10 mph to win his first-round quad over Mike McIntire Jr.’s 3.940 at 321.35, Alex Laughlin’s 4.155 at 307.30 and J.R. Todd’s 5.530 at 134.23. Hight would be joined in the next quad by McIntire Jr.

Joining Hight and McIntire would be John Force in the BlueDEF Chevy and long-time rival Cruz Pedregon. Hight would dominate the second quad with a 3.875-second pass at 331.28 mph with Force also advancing on a hole shot with a .055 reaction time and 3.967 pass at 326.32 over McIntire’s .102 reaction and 3.941 run at 309.70. Pedregon would smoke the tires for a 9.796 at 87.59.

In the finals, it would be Hight picking up victory with a holeshot. The three-time champion would have a .053 reaction time to go with his 3.888-second pass at 328.30 mph defeating Alexis DeJoria’s .082 reaction and 3.872 at 333.41, Ron Capps’ 3.923 at 331.85 and Force’s 3.924 at 329.26.

“This is a big weekend for us. The car went down the track in every run and really hats off to the NHRA and the Safety Safari. They have had challenging conditions all weekend and I know they have worked long, long hours,” said Hight referring to the continuous weather delays throughout the three-day event. “After two first round losses in a row, we changed the car around. We stayed and tested after the last event in Vegas. Jimmy Prock felt we got the data we needed despite an ignition problem. So, to come in here and make seven respectable runs, and get down the track every run, that’s pretty exciting. When you are up against the group that we had in the final, whoever comes out on top, that is a big deal.”

Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / RMT dragster team continued to improve from qualifying and find consistency in performance laying down the lowest elapsed time of race day with a 3.686-second pass at 331.53 mph. They would defeat the 5.820 run at 115.89 mph of Justin Ashley, who also advanced, as well as Mike Salinas’ 5.853 at 117.82 and Jacob McNeal’s 4.607 at 169.15.

Facing Ashely, Leah Pruett and Pat Dakin in the second quad, Prock and the Montana Brand team would lay down another impressive 3.715-second pass at 328.78 to advance to the finals. Pruett would join him with a 3.753 at 326.40 while the pair sent Dakin’s 3.774 at 325.30 and Ashley’s 4.224 at 200.68 back to the trailers.

It would be a wild final quad match-up with four-time champion Steve Torrence red-lighting. Prock would manage to keep his composure for a clean 3.684-second pass at 330.88 mph to better Pruett’s 3.708 at 329.99 and Hart’s 3.756 at 327.82.

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“It was a great weekend overall. Just like Robert’s car, we went down the track all seven runs this weekend. And to rebound like we did after an awful weekend in Vegas, really shows how strong this team is. I never have had much success here in Charlotte and believe I went out from pretty much going out every first round to winning it. Super proud of my team and this category is just brutal right now, so they are extra special,” Prock said. “When you are in the outside lanes, if you are quick, you can catch the win light. I missed that, so I didn’t even know I won until I turned the corner. My crew chiefs were so confident today that they told me we are going to go out there and out-run everybody and I believe we did.”

En route to his final quad appearance, John Force and the BlueDEF Chevy had some luck in the first elimination quad advancing with a 5.846-second pass at 128.79 mph after both John Smith and Blake Alexander had center line violations that disqualified their runs. Force, by default, would be runner-up to Cruz Pedregon’s 3.892 at 327.35.

Force’s hunt for a third-consecutive Four-Wide Nationals victory at zMAX Dragway came to a close in the final quad when he came up short with a 3.924-second pass at 329.26 mph for his second consecutive semifinal finish.

“Not a bad weekend for this BlueDEF team. We didn’t get it down there every run and we got a bit of luck on one of them but, semifinal finish, making it to the final round, that’s good,” Force said. “If it can’t be us winning, I’m glad it’s Robert Hight. That was his last race in Flav-R-Pac, so that’s exciting. And to get the win with Austin Prock and Montana Brand, another Frank Tiegs car, that’s what we like to see. Good weekend overall. Chicago’s next and that’s a big one for Old World Industries, PEAK and BlueDEF so really hoping to put on a show there.”

Coming in as the No. 1 qualifiers, Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac team started race day with a solid 3.694-second pass at 334.82 mph to win her first eliminations quad. Doug Foley would advance to the second round with Force after a 3.779 at 296.76 while Clay Millican’s 5.628 at 131.79 and Antron Brown’s 6.346 at 103.86 wouldn’t be enough.

This story was originally published on April 30, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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