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Robert Hight, Cornwell Tools Reach Finals at Brainerd International Raceway

Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS team reached their 99th career final round Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, finishing runner-up for the 36th time. John Force and the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevy Camaro SS had a semifinal finish, while Brittany Force and the monster Energy. Flav-R-Pac dragster finished in the quarterfinals and Austin Prock with the Montanan brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster exited in the first round. 

Robert Hight, who also celebrated his 54th birthday on Sunday, reached the final at Brainerd International Raceway for the second time in his career, he previously won in 2015. It was Hight’s third final of the 2023 season but his first runner-up finish. It was also his first time reaching the finals with the Cornwell Tools livery on his Chevy Camaro Funny Car. Hight came up short in the finals with a 3.900-second pass at 324.90 mph to reigning world champion Ron Capps’ 3.887 at 332.75.

After winning the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday, Hight and the Cornwell Tools team started race day with a first-round win over Bobby Bode Jr. Hight would lay down the quickest run of the event with a stellar 3.881-second pass at 330.88 mph bettering Bode’s 3.929 at 322.23. Hight would take on Dave Richards in the second round. Richards would have his parachute deploy before the finish line tripping his timing system for no time while Hight was confidently ahead with a 3.913 pass at 329.83 for the round win.

In the semifinals, Hight would take on teammate and boss John Force for the 67th time in their careers. Hight and the Cornwell Tools team would have a clean pass at 3.918 seconds and 325.61 mph while Force’s PEAK Chevy would smoke the tires almost immediately coasting to a 11.323 pass at 76.73 setting Hight up for the finals against Capps.

“This is the first final round we’ve been to in the Cornwell Tools Chevy Camaro so hats off to the Cornwell Tools team. The car has been running well, it’s starting to respond to the decisions Jimmy Prock is making. We had some fun today, had a couple of tough rounds, it was no cakewalk,” Hight said. “We really wanted to get the job done, especially with Matt Hagan going out in the first round. We knew it was going to take more to win in the finals, I know Jimmy was shooting for better but we’re chipping away at it. We’re close and knowing that has me excited for the U.S. Nationals. We need another Wally, it’s been a while. So we’ll go out and test tomorrow and work to get one step closer.”

En route to his semifinal finish, Force would take on Chad Green in the first round. Identified as the marquee match-up in the Funny Car first round, the PEAK Chevy would take the victory on a holeshot with a .056 second reaction time and 3.959 second, 329.99 mph pass to Green’s .072 reaction time and 3.945, 325.30 pass. Force would go on to face Dale Creasy Jr. in the second round with a clean run at 3.900 seconds and 328.94 mph bettering Creasy’s 4.725 at 178.00, to set Force up with the semifinal match against Hight.

“It was a good day, good race day. We needed this. I raced my race, I stage deep but I do what I have to, I need all the advantage I can get. I know that PEAK Chevrolet, with my crew chiefs Danny Hood and Tim Fabrisi, I know they give me a good fast race car. I love racing that hot rod,” said Force who sits ninth in the points standings. “Never want to race your teammate unless it’s in the finals but at least it was in the semifinals and we both will get a chance at the Mission Foods Challenge. One race left before the Countdown, time to buckle up and get the job done.”

Brittany Force and the Monster Energy team kicked off race day with a solid 3.694-second pass at 334.15 mph to take down Josh Hart and his 3.758 at 331.84. The first-round win set Force up with a quarterfinal match-up against Leah Pruett. Force would leave Pruett on the starting line with a .048-second to .205-second reaction time but Force would have to pedal it after smoking the tire mid-track. The Monster Energy dragster would drop cylinders eventually crossing the finish line at 4.309 and 262.49 behind Pruett’s 3.750 at 333.41.

“Leaving Brainerd International Raceway still on a positive note after an unexpected weekend. We were hoping to do better coming out of a runner-up finish in Topeka. This Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team did qualify No. 4 and earned bonus championship points in the #2Fast2Tasty Challenge on Saturday but unfortunately got beat in the second round today,” said Force who will enter the final event of the regular season fourth in points. “We made some solid laps, our best in the first round at 3.694 at 334 but we smoked the tires in round two. Our team is aware of our mistakes and we know how to correct them and move on. The U.S. Nationals is next up in two weeks and we will be ready.”

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Austin Prock and the Montana Brand team had a clean pass in the first round of eliminations against Mike Salinas. Unfortunately, their 3.748-second run at 325.30 mph wasn’t enough for Salinas’ 3.726 at a track speed record of 335.32. With just one race left in the NHRA regular season, Prock will be looking to take advantage of points and a half at the U.S. Nationals to move him from the No. 6 spot.

“It was another tough stop on our NHRA Camping World tour. This Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster is close but we haven’t had much luck, and haven’t been able to catch any breaks lately. I know I also haven’t been doing a great job behind the wheel, I haven’t met my standards,” Prock said. “I’ll get it together and be there when it counts and I know my team is working hard to do the same. Indy is next and then it really counts.”

The John Force Racing teams will continue on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Season heading to the final event of the regular season at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals, drag racing’s biggest race where points and a half will be on the line.

This story was originally published on August 21, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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