CHARLOTTE (April 15) — Five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. recorded the biggest upset of the opening round of Sunday’s pro eliminations at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals before slipping away to a semifinal finish at zMax Dragway.
Jumping off the starting line with the best reaction time in the class — .026 seconds –Coughlin piloted his JEGS.com /Mopar Dodge Avenger from the 16th and final qualifying position to a better elapsed time than the higher-ranked cars of Ronnie Humphrey and Rodger Brogdon to advance out of the first round along with low qualifier Jason Line. Under the unique four-wide format, the two quickest drivers of each foursome of racers move forward in the competition.
“It was exciting to get that win and have the car react well, especially after a tough qualifying session,” Coughlin said. “We really struggled the first two rounds of qualifying and the guys caught up to it a little in Q3 and Q4 and we were able to get the last spot, which was a feat in itself.
“Everyone worked hard overnight and the car was happier and in control today but still a little lazy. It was telling us to give it more so that’s what we did going into the semifinals.”
Facing Line, Erica Enders and Mike Edwards in the first quad of the semifinals, Coughlin once again launched well and was running side-by-side with Line and Enders until his Avenger got a little loose near mid track and slowed to a 6.691 at 209.92 mph. Both Line (6.543 at 212.46 mph) and Enders (6.568 at 210.70 mph) ran quicker, thereby eliminating Coughlin.
“We gave her what she wanted but with the sun on the track it appears we went just a little bit too far,” Coughlin said. “We weren’t off by much but it was enough. Truthfully, it would have taken our best poke of the weekend to beat a 6.54 and a 6.56 so we’ll take a semifinal finish here and head to Houston.
“The guys do have another new HEMI they want to try so I would imagine we’ll have some testing to do before we head to Texas. We’re working very hard at getting this car to be quicker and faster and we’re going to stay after it until we do.”
The NHRA tour takes a weekend off before the 25th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals, which take place April 27-29 at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston.
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