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Robert Hight Scores first No. 1 Qualifier of 2023 for Cornwell Tools

Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team earned their first No. 1 qualifier of the season Saturday at the Gerber Glass & Collision NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance. Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster team landed in the No. 2 spot while John Force and the BlueDEF PLATINUM / PEAK Chevy Camaro SS are No. 8 and Brittany Force with the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy dragster team are No. 10.

Already No. 1 heading into Saturday, Hight and the Cornwell Tools team struggled off the line Saturday afternoon coasting to 12.809-seconds and 64.03 mph before being quickest of the final session with a 3.896 pass at 326.48 mph. Hight earned his 78th No. 1 of his career, fifth at Route 66 Raceway off his track record 3.831-second run at 335.07 mph. The Cornwell Tools team’s effort puts them against Dale Creasy Jr. in the first round of eliminations.

“We’ve been changing some combinations around a little bit and I think we’ve qualified No. 2 a couple times so we’ve been right there. Feels good to get this one. There’s a lot of good cars and it’s great timing to be No. 1 at our first race with Cornwell Tools. It’s going to be a battle tomorrow,” said Hight who has earned a No. 1 qualifier in every season that he has compete for a championship. “I wish we could have gone down Q2 and it didn’t even move. It blew the tires off at the hit. We rebounded, made a came back and made another respectable run at night after the conditions started to come around. It gives us confidence especially knowing it’s going to be very similar conditions, because it cools off pretty good at night with that 11 a.m. start. But in the middle of the day, second and third round, it’s going to be trickier than we’ve seen all weekend and that’s when we’ve got to earn it, really depend on the crew chiefs, that’s what they’re paid to do.”

In a rematch of the semifinals at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California, Austin Prock and Brittany Force lined up against each other in the first round of the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge taking place during the second qualifying session. Prock, who had lane choice based on his qualifying efforts on Friday night, would handle his Montana Brand / RMT dragster to a 3.737-second pass at 327.43 mph to beat Force’s 3.765 at a track record speed of 334.82.

Prock would go on to face Justin Ashley in the finals of the #2Fast2Tasty Challenge laying down a solid 3.742-second pass at 325.37 mph that wasn’t quite enough for Ashley’s 3.728 at 331.12. Prock will earn two championship points as well as $3,000 for his runner-up finish in the specialty race within a race. Prock will start race day from the No. 2 spot off his 3.694-second pass from Friday evening.

“Solid weekend so far for this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team. Really proud of this team and all we have accomplished so far. That first round win in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, that was a real tasty run right there. Chris Cunningham, Joe Barlam and this whole team is doing awesome,” said Prock who will face. “Going into race day in the No. 2 spot, nothing to turn our noses up at. We’re looking forward to a strong Sunday tomorrow and try to move up in the points standings. We’ve got a bunch of sponsor out here, PEAK, NK Seeds, Cornwell Tools, so hopefully we can continue to make them proud.”

Despite not advancing in the #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, Force and the Flav-R-Pac team’s track record run would jump them up from No. 19 to No. 9 heading into the final qualifying session. In that last session, the Flav-R-Pac dragster would drive into tire smoke down track for a 4.232-second pass at 193.13 mph slipping to the No. 10 spot to finish out qualifying.

“We’re returning to Chicago, Route 66 Raceway, haven’t been here since 2019 so it definitely presents a challenge. Our Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy team is struggling a little bit. We only made one solid pass down the racetrack that put us No. 10 with a 3.76 at 334. It was a solid run, it was a good run, but we were really looking for two more to get us setup and ready for race day,” Force said. “We’re in a tough position right facing Spencer Massey, but this team will get it figured out and we’ll still go rounds tomorrow.”

After having to shutoff early in Friday’s session, Force handled the BlueDEF Chevy to a solid 3.989-second pass at 322.81 mph to maintain the No. 4 spot heading into his final attempt at qualifying. After the BlueDEF Camaro put a cylinder out mid-track, Force would hold on for a 4.149 pass at 236.51 in the last session, moving into the No. 8 position to face Mike McIntire Jr. in the first round.  

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“It’s been a busy week, a busy weekend with PEAK Performance presenting the race. Been a lot of fun having all the employees and customers out. And Cornwell Tools and NK Seeds have been out in full force too,” said Force. “Decent qualifying, not great but we’re in the show, which is important. This PEAK BlueDEF Chevy, we’re going to be okay. I’ve got extra motivation this weekend and I’ve got faith in Danny Hood and Tim Fabrisi and all my guys. I’ve just got to do my job too.”

The Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance at Route 66 Raceway continues with eliminations Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Television coverage will continue with a second qualifying show Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Eliminations are slated to air Sunday at 10:00 p.m. ET on FS1.

This story was originally published on May 20, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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