BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 7) — By the time Jeg Coughlin Jr. made it up to Bristol Dragway’s starting line for his third qualifying pass Saturday morning, his Chevrolet Cobalt had been knocked out of the field. But unfazed by the magnitude of his do-or-die run, the three-time POWERade champion coolly drove straight down the quarter-mile with the quickest pass of the weekend — a 6.765 at 204.05 mph — to earn his third pole of the year and 11th of his career.

“What a thrill,” Coughlin said. “I don’t know that any of us expected it to be quicker today because it was certainly hotter out there, but the track has improved quite a bit, especially down at the other end, and my guys put together a perfect racecar for me. I was able to make a nice, straight run and that combination translated to a great time.

“We’re in a fight right now with our two cars and the two cars from KB Racing, and once again the four of us are right there stacked up at the top of the qualifying sheet. Its great competition and I think it’s safe to say they’re pushing us and we’re pushing them, which makes it fun when we can out-qualify them at a race here or there.”

Coughlin is followed on the ladder by Greg Anderson (6.782), the only person ahead of him in the current points standings, his Cagnazzi racing teammate Dave Connolly (6.782), and reigning series champion Jason Line (6.789).

With three final-round showings and a pair of semifinal finishes in the last five events, Coughlin has established himself as the hottest driver in the Pro Stock class. He hopes to keep that streak alive Sunday when eliminations begin at noon. Coughlin’s first-round opponent will be final qualifier V. Gaines, who qualified 16th overall with a 6.818 at 201.88 mph. Coughlin beat Gaines in their only race this year.

“There isn’t an easy side of the ladder any more, as you can see by my first round opponent,’ Coughlin said. “V.’s been running the wheels off his car this year and he’s a very worthy opponent. They all are. If you can make the field, you can win the race.

“I’m extremely confident in our crew. They really proved something to me today and I think we have adequate data for tomorrow’s runs. Hopefully, we can keep the heat on Greg and Jason and keep our two Cagnazzi cars right in the mix.”

Coughlin finished the day with the quickest run of the final session. He posted a 6.786 at 203.83 mph under the most extreme conditions of the weekend.

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