Third-place finish in Bristol keeps Coughlin out front
BRISTOL, Tenn. (May 17)—A third-place finish Sunday at the Thunder Valley Nationals in Eastern Tennessee kept back-to-back reigning series champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. on top of the Full Throttle points at the one-third mark of the 24-race season.
“We’ve had a great run over the last five races,” said Coughlin, who won two races and had two runner-up finishes at the last four events coming into this weekend. “It would have been great to have another shot at a trophy but we’re certainly not going to hang our heads over a semifinal finish.”
Overall, it was a good weekend for Coughlin as he qualified a season-best second on the elimination grid with a 6.712 at 205.85 mph in the JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt.
An overnight cool front allowed the team to step up considerably on race day. Coughlin opened with a 6.672 at 207.30 mph in a Round 1 thrashing of Ronnie Humphrey. He went even quicker in the quarterfinals, posting a 6.663 at 207.40 mph opposite Ron Krisher, who fouled out at the starting line.
In the semifinals, Coughlin faced a familiar foe in three-time world champion Greg Anderson, who he had beaten at the last two races in the same round of action. This time, Anderson got going straight and true for a 6.661 at 207.50 mph to beat Coughlin’s out of shape car down low (6.941 at 166.60 mph).
“We were just trying to get everything we could out of the car and the tune-up and we tipped it over just a touch,” Coughlin said. “We’ll just keep working at it and try to get better. The car was strong all weekend and we’re pretty happy all the way around.
“This is the way Pro Stock goes. You can’t expect to be in the final round every week. There are just too many great cars and drivers out here. We’ll gear up for a weekend off and then prep for Topeka and do it all over again.”
Coughlin entered the event 49 points ahead of Jason Line, who also lost in the semifinals. Due to his superior qualifying effort, Coughlin actually gained a few points in the rankings and will leave Bristol with a 52-point advantage.
The NHRA tour next stops at Heartland Park Topeka on May 29-31.
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Scott “Woody” Woodruff
JEGS, Director of Media & Motorsports