“We clinched our spot in the Countdown (playoffs) two races ago so it’s allowed us to select certain rounds where we can test some things,” Coughlin said. “Even when we posted our run of record earlier today it was with a brand-new motor under the hood. We were just breaking it in and apparently it’s working real well.
“We came back in the final session and just tried to duplicate this morning’s run and we pretty much did that. We went 6.614 at 209.23 mph on a track that was about 10 degrees hotter so that probably balances out. I feel real good about our chances.”
Coughlin’s 6.607 at 209.85 mph sets up a first-round elimination race with fellow Ohioan Larry Morgan, who qualified 12th overall with a 6.671 at 206.89 mph. Coughlin and Morgan have opened two other races this year against one another with Coughlin taking both wins so far.
“There’s no easy route through the elimination ladder,” Coughlin said. “There never is in this class. You have to be ready to beat them all and everyone in the field can win the race, as we’ve all seen so many times before.
“We’re definitely enjoying our chance to work on some things in certain sessions but when it’s race day you hold nothing back. We’re hoping to win a couple more of these regular season races so we can secure the No. 1 spot but there are a handful of guys taking dead aim at us to get that spot so we’ll have to stay sharp.”
Coughlin’s five national event wins this year ties him with Funny Car leader Ron Capps for the most in the professional ranks, although Coughlin’s 35-8 race day record stands alone among his peers, regardless of class.
This is the 14th race of the 18-race regular season. The Countdown to 1 playoffs begin in early September after the U.S. Nationals and will consist of six races. Coughlin has won both of the championships contested under the Countdown system.