Assisted by crew chiefs Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham and team consultant Joe Hornick, Robert Hight succeeded in reaching seven final rounds while winning four of them, setting both the speed and elapsed time national records, and claiming the 2017 Funny Car National championship.
Q) With regard to your team, how does it differ from 2009, when you claimed your last Funny Car championship?
A) “In 2009, I didn’t have Chris and Joe working for me, just Jimmy.”
Q) Tom “Mongoose” McEwen has described Jimmy as “belonging to an elite”, saying that he differs from many of his colleagues in that he takes chances, “more audacious in his drag racing calculations than anyone I know.” That’s high praise from the Goose. How does Jimmy interact with Chris and Joe?
A) “Actually it was Jimmy who recommended we hire Joe; he convinced us that it would improve our performance, and it turned out to be a prudent decision.”
Q) And with Chris Cunningham?
A) “When I worked with Jimmy previously—when we won the Funny Car championship in 2009—he didn’t have Chris. But when Jimmy returned to our team, he told us he wanted Chris with him. Now that they’re together and with Joe, I can see a difference. Jimmy is still aggressive, but his success rate in getting the car down the track under full throttle is greater, and some of this has been gained through his collaboration with Chris and Joe. Jimmy always wants to learn more. In my opinion he is a more complete crew chief than he was five years ago. Chris has a canny head and makes lots of decisions. Cars could be smoking their tires as other teams are having trouble and he’ll radio back: “Do this, this and this. And we do it and… we win.”
Racing has its share of mavericks, non-conformists and a few cantankerous egotists, but in Jimmy, Chris, and Joe, Robert Hight has those rare ingredients that mark a winning team