TOPEKA, Kan. (June 1) — Surprising no one, especially those that have raced here before, the opening day of the 19th annual O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals was spotted with rain. In the end, only one of the two scheduled rounds of professional qualifying was completed with racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. posted a passable 6.779 at 204.63 mph to earn the No. 9 spot in the off-pace field.

“The track was very green, especially at the starting line, and I think we saw a lot of people struggle in that area,” Coughlin said. “We were far enough back that the crew guys were able to make some adjustments to get us off the line with some efficiency but it certainly wasn’t our best effort.

“The good news is the nitro guys have all made a pass now so there should be a lot more rubber down than there was before. This track is historically very good so I’m sure it will fill in nicely as the weekend goes along.”

Coughlin can learn from the data gleaned by his Victor Cagnazzi Racing teammate Dave Connolly, who ran a second-best 6.749 at 204.45 mph in his Torco Fuels Cobalt.

“The advantages of having a teammate really show through when you lose a round to rain because at least between the two of us we have two runs worth of data to work with,” Coughlin said. “I hope this weather blows through and we get both rounds in tomorrow. The fans certainly deserve a great show and we want to give it to them.”

Coughlin is a two-time winner in Topeka, having claimed the Super Stock trophy here in 1994 and the Pro Stock title in 2000.

Saturday’s session are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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