Commerce: Sunday eliminations report

BERNSTEIN, HIGHT, ANDERSON AND STOFFER RACE TO VICTORIES AT SUMMIT RACING NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS COMMERCE, Ga. -- Second-generation driver Brandon Bernstein raced to the Top Fuel victory Sunday at Atlanta Dragway and moved into first place...


COMMERCE, Ga. -- Second-generation driver Brandon Bernstein raced to the Top Fuel victory Sunday at Atlanta Dragway and moved into first place in the POWERade Series standings. The son of NHRA legend Kenny Bernstein has won the last two races and 14 in his brief career.

Bernstein was joined in the winner's circle at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals by Robert Hight, who claimed the Funny Car title over Mike Ashley, Pro Stock points leader Greg Anderson, and Karen Stoffer, who won her second race of the year in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Bernstein posted a 4.662 at 305.01 in his Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster to claim the Top Fuel victory over Doug Herbert, who posted a 4.714 at 297.02 in his Snap-on Tools dragster.

"It's huge to grab the points lead heading into Anheuser-Busch's backyard," said Bernstein. "They've been a part of our family for so long and to be able to go into the race on a two-race win streak and with the points lead is quite a feeling. I'd love to make it three-in-a-row and the way Tim and Kim [Richards, crew chiefs] have this Budweiser car running right now it could happen."

The Funny Car final was a classic battle between the top two qualifiers with No. 2 Hight taking advantage of some late tire smoke from opponent Mike Ashley, the No. 1 qualifier. The two were side-by-side most of the way down the track until Ashley's Torco Dodge Charger started spinning its tires around 1,000 feet. That was all Hight needed to take the win in his Auto Club Ford Mustang, crossing the finish line with a 4.882 at 314.61 mph to Ashley's 5.167 at 229.66 mph.

With his seventh career victory, Hight cut Ron Capps' points lead to 45.

"We've got Eric Medlen and we've got Jimmy Prock and that's a pretty awesome combination," Hight said. "I think Eric is looking down on all of us out here racing but he's probably favoring these Ford Mustangs a little more than the others. Winning races sure lifts the spirits of everyone at John Force Racing and I'm happy to be able to give everyone something else to think about for a little while."

The marquee match-up of the day came in Round 1 when Ashley Force beat her famous father John in the first father/daughter pro category race in NHRA history. The 24-year-old rookie driver advanced to the semifinals in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, equaling the best Funny Car effort for a female in NHRA history.

"Today I'm a proud father," John said. "I've dreamed of this day for a long time and it makes me emotional to think it finally came true. She's a great young driver and she's probably gonna whip me a bunch, but I'm OK with it because she's my baby."

Anderson won his fourth Pro Stock race of the season to take a commanding 212-point lead in the POWERade standings. Racing his former boss Warren Johnson in an all-Pontiac final, Anderson claimed his 47th career victory by posting a 6.671 at 207.62 mph in his Summit Racing GTO to hold off the recent International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee's performance of 6.719 at 205.79 mph in his GM Performance Parts GTO.

"I'm so proud of that guy," Anderson said of Johnson, who he helped win three world championship titles during the 1990s. "He did a great job today at his home track and I'm sure all his fans here are happy for him. It still means a lot to beat him, especially in a final. We've got some great history here too and the time I spent with him here for all those years certainly didn't hurt. I love this place and winning a race that has your sponsor's name on it is important."

Stoffer's second win of the year helped her regain the points lead she held after Gainesville and kept the 2007 streak of female winners alive in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. Angelle Sampey won the Houston race, the only other event that featured motorcycles. Stoffer took an easy win on her Geico Suzuki in the final as opponent Matt Smith's Torco Buell broke as he let the clutch out at the start of the race.

"We've been striving for consistency for four years and it finally feels like we've found it," said Stoffer of her fifth career victory. "I never expected to be standing here after three races with two wins and the points lead. It's quite a feeling. Kudos to Gary [Stoffer, husband and crew chief] for helping me hit the lights and for setting up the perfect clutch combination."

Sampey slipped to third in the standings, 48 back of Stoffer. Smith is in between the two, 32 points off the lead.

The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship continues with the 11th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Kenny Bernstein , Warren Johnson , Ron Capps , John Force , Greg Anderson , Karen Stoffer , Ashley Force , Brandon Bernstein , Mike Ashley , Matthew Smith , Eric Medlen , Robert Hight , Angelle Sampey