The AAA Insurance National Hot Rod Association Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park started off beautifully for Robert Hight and his John Force Racing Camaro. In fact, the event went very smoothly for JFR through the first round of eliminations and with Hight winning the class, it ended up pretty well, but the win was overshadowed by a fiery crash as his Camaro took the win.
Qualifying went well for John Force Racing, with their Chevrolet Camaro funny cars grabbing the 1st, 3rd and 9th positions headed into eliminations. Hight was the quickest in qualifying, Courtney Force was 3rd and John Force was the 9th quickest, while the Dodge Charger race cars of Don Schumacher Racing were 2nd, 4th, 8th and 11th.
Finally, JR Todd, who won the first race of the Countdown to the Championship and sat in the top spot coming into this event qualified 7th in his Toyota Camry, so the JFR teams were in great shape headed into eliminations.
The first round of eliminations went perfectly for the JFR Camaro funny cars, with Hight beating Dale Creasy, John Force beating Jack Beckman and Courtney Force beating Jim Campbell. Meanwhile, only one of the Don Schumacher cars made it past the first round, with Hagan, Beckman and Capps all losing while Tommy Johnson Jr beat Del Worsham.
In the second round, John Force and Robert Hight squared off in a Camaro duel, with Hight advancing to the semifinals in a great side by side drag race. Courtney Force also lost in the second round, falling to the Ford Mustang of Tim Wilkerson. Also, JR Todd beat Cruz Pedregon and Tommy Johnson Jr beat Bob Tasca III to advance to the semis.
In the semifinals, Robert Hight and his Camaro beat Johnson in the Charger and Tim Wilkerson managed to grab the win against JR Todd in a messy race. This made Wilkerson’s second-straight final round, having lost to JR Todd in the first race of the Countdown. For Hight, this was his sixth final round of the season, having won two of the five earlier this year.
In the finals, Robert Hight turned a starting line advantage into a narrow win as both cars coasted across the finish line. However, right as the Camaro hit the finish line, the car literally exploded into flames. Hight lost control of the flaming car and it hit the near-side wall hard enough to eject the body up over the retaining fence and into the area with fans. Fortunately, no fans were injured and Hight was alert and responsive when taken to the hospital for a precautionary look-over. You can watch that explosive race in the video below.
With four races left in the 2018 NHRA season, Robert Hight has pulled into the lead in the Countdown to the Championship. With 2,270 points, he leads JR Todd in 2nd (2,240), Courtney Force in 3rd (2,200), Tim Wilkerson in 4th (2,196) and Ron Capps in 5th (2,182).
The next event is October 4th through the 7th with the AAA Texas Fall Nationals.