NHRA fan or not, if this doesn’t give you goosebumps then you may stumbled into the wrong sport.
Ashley Force-Hood captured emotion and jubilation in their rawest forms on Sunday morning at the NHRA’s Auto Club Finals when Robert Hight’s crew — already back in their pit area hard at work preparing their round two matchup — heard the call from public address announcer Alan Reinhart that they were the champions after their nearest opponent, Ron Capps, was knocked from contention by Del Worsham in the opening stanza. Taking a brief moment to mob one another and embrace crew chief Jimmy Prock, the crew quickly got back to work, knowing there was still work to be done on the season’s final day.
For Hight, the title was his second and first since 2009, ending a hard-fought battle with Capps, the reigning champion, that came down to the finale — just eight points separating the two as they entered the opening round of eliminations. While Hight was visibly elated, the gravity of nearly 10 months spent on the road, traversing tens of thousand of miles chasing a title was evident in the emotions displayed by his crew who make the sacrifices and pour their souls into the AAA of Southern California Chevrolet week after week.
“We have a bunch of people back in Indianapolis at Force American Made who we need to really thank,” Hight said. “They build all this stuff. They build our race cars, mount our bodies, build all of our parts, engine parts, clutch parts and superchargers. These guys run those Hurco machines, and they really work their butts off. This championship is as much for them as it is for us.”
Photo credit: Ron Lewis/John Force Racing
“Everybody worked their tail off and was quiet and knew they had a job to do. This is just huge for John Force Racing. For a couple of years, we have struggled but it is such a great group. We signed a long-term deal with Auto Club and they deserve better than what we were giving them. Jimmy Prock, Chris Cunningham they got us back in the game. It’s been a long time and you want it so bad.”