Friday February 12th, 2016 7:23AM

Hight powers to Funny Car victory at Southern Nationals in Commerce

By Pete McCole
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COMMERCE, GA - Robert Hight picked up his third straight Funny Car victory, while Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all scored their first wins of the season in Monday's rain-delayed Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals event for the NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, GA.

After nearly three days of persistent rain, officials were finally able to get through all four classes after a disastrous attempt to run the event on Sunday evening left drivers fuming over the NHRA's decision to press on despite dangerous track conditions.

Working through the night, the NHRA Safety Safari made their best efforts to prep the track but adequate grip proved hard to find as they finished out the first round of Top Fuel pairings from Sunday's run.

In Funny Car, Robert Hight won his third-straight victory and fourth of the season while denying his teammate, Courtney Force, a bid at NHRA history.

Running in his sixth consecutive final round, Hight was first out of the gate and never looked back as Force also ran a full pull but wasn't able to reel Hight in with the 2009 Funny Car champion going 4.049 at 315.05 mph over Force, who lost out on her bid to score the 100th-victory be a female competitor in NHRA history.

"It would have been a big win for Courtney, but, you know what, we've got some momentum," said Hight, who beat out Bob Bode, Tim Wilkerson, Ron Capps to reach the final round. "We want to make some history here. This is six straight final rounds. Man, I've never done this. Six out of seven, I never would have guessed this. I've won three in a row a few times. I want to win four, five. I want to see where we can go."

Spencer Massey picked up his first win of the season after taking down Doug Kalitta in an explosive Top Fuel final that saw Massey go up in flames right at the finish.

Massey barely made it through his opening-round match up against J.R. Todd on Sunday, then again nursed the car to a win over Clay Millican while dropping cylinders before making his first full pass of the event by defeating Steve Torrence to reach his first final round since his runner-up showing at zMax Dragway last September.

In the final, Massey was first off the line with a .060 light but both drivers quickly went up in smoke. Massey was able to keep the car in line and back under power to the finish, where his engine promptly gave out in a fireball, but far enough along to post a 4.269 at 245.85 mph for his 15th-career victory.

"In the final round, we tried standing on it again. With Kalitta running those awesome numbers in qualifying, we knew we couldn't take them lightly," said Massey. "We spun the tire, got out there, and I tried grabbing a little brake again, got back on it, and got to the finish line first. It wasn't pretty. There was a lot of smoke, a lot of fire, a lot of oil, but it is what it is."

Jeg Coughlin notched his third Atlanta victory with a win over Greg Anderson in the Pro Stock final to collect his first victory of the year.

Coughlin was able to rebound from red-light fouls in his last two starts in Charlotte and Houston, picking up round wins over teammate Allen Johnson, Erica Enders-Stevens and Jason Line to advance to his first final round in his last nine races, facing off against Anderson for their 17th final-round match up.

At the start of the money round, Anderson hit a near-perfect .003 light but Coughlin was able to power through to the lead before they cleared the Christmas tree, going 6.558 at 211.63 mph over Andersons 6.588, 212.13.

"We've been hit and miss a little this year with both cars (his and Allen Johnson's), and both cars were a little sluggish here at the start," said Coughlin. "We worked on them real hard going into Saturday, but the E.T's weren't there, so we changed engines going into race day. Our teams did one heck of a job on a rebound this weekend. We made some good calls, and it was great to get our first win of the season."

Eddie Krawiec scored a weekend sweep in Pro Stock Motorcycle, taking the no. 1 qualifier position and going on to best teammate Andrew Hines in the final for his first win of the season.

Krawiec led all four rounds of qualifying and set the track ET record, then had the quickest time in each of the first three rounds beating out Jerry Savoie, Adam Arana, and Michael Ray before going on to face Hines in the final.

Hines, who tied Krawiec for the fastest pass in the second round, fell behind right at the start of the final round and was never able to gain any ground as Krawiec pulled away for an easy win, running 6.806, 197.45 over Hines' 6.860, 194.66.

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Atlanta Dragway
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