Squirrely track sends top qualifier Coughlin home early
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 28)—Top qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. was marching away from all three of his first-round opponents early Sunday afternoon when his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt suddenly began skating around the racing surface of zMax Dragway. The problem was so severe that the four-time Pro Stock champion was forced to get off the accelerator and surrender his chance at advancing at the inaugural NHRA 4-Wide Nationals.
“We can’t buy a round win this year,” Coughlin lamented. “It got loose down track and I reached a point where I needed to lift or go over onto the roof.
“I had a good light (.036) and had three, four hundredths on the others but going through fourth gear I felt the car getting loose. I tried coaxing it into the groove because I couldn’t let it get too far away from me but it was just loose no matter where I went.”
Instead of marching away for an easy win, Coughlin got off the gas and watched Bob Yonke and Rodger Brogdon advance from his foursome. Yonke went 6.603 at 209.36 mph, while Brogdon ran a 6.659 at 208.84 mph. Brogdon rents motors from Coughlin’s team owner, Victor Cagnazzi. Coughlin’s official time was a 6.913 at 174.23 mph.
“We had a great weekend going and there’s certainly lots to be excited about if you stand back and look at the program as a whole,” said Coughlin, a 48-time winner in the class. “We actually were loose in three of the four runs we made in qualifying so it wasn’t a big surprise for it to happen today. It was just one of those things.
“I’m proud of the team and the work they’ve put in to get this car on top of the class. Being No. 1 qualifier against the likes of Mike Edwards and the other frontrunners is exciting. Mike had been No. 1 qualifier at 12 straight races so to get around him says a lot about the guys back at the shop putting in all those long hours.”
The Full Throttle Drag Racing Series takes Easter weekend off and returns to action April 9-11 with the 23rd annual O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park. Coughlin is a three-time winner at the Southeast Texas speedplant, having won titles there in 1997, 1998, and 2000.