This weekend’s 26th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway is proving to be no exception as Coughlin will begin his quest for a fourth Reading title against three-time series champion Greg Anderson, who is currently second in the points and coming off back-to-back victories in Charlotte and Dallas.
“You have to beat them all to win,” Coughlin said. “We’ve held our own against the big dogs the last couple weekends so maybe we’ll pull off another one tomorrow.”
Two races ago, Coughlin dismissed leader Mike Edwards on a holeshot, meaning he left the starting line ahead of his opponent and earned enough of a headstart that his slower overall elapsed time was still good enough to earn the win. In Dallas, he almost did it again against top qualifier Allen Johnson but came up .001 seconds short.
The difference this weekend is Coughlin will have lane choice over Anderson after running a best of 6.569 at 209.82 mph to Anderson’s 6.572 at 210.87 mph. The two are qualified mid-pack and will likely open the action in Pro Stock.
“The first item on this weekend’s list has been accomplished,” Coughlin said. “We came here looking for a tune-up we could work with and we’ve found it. We’ve run a pair of 6.58s and a pair of 6.56s in qualifying so it looks like we have a good, solid combination to work with on race day.
“The engine looks happy and the car itself is happy. There are a few little inefficiencies that we can massage to find a little more E.T. so we’ll work on those areas. The goal, as always, is to pull off a win on race day.”
Coughlin won the last two NHRA national events at this track and took the 1999 trophy as well.
ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10:30 p.m. Saturday. ESPN3.com will televise eliminations starting at 11 a.m., Sunday, with ESPN airing two and half hours of coverage starting at 9 p.m., Sunday.
Scott “Woody” Woodruff
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