BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 9) — If there’s one thing a drag racer and crew chief crave it’s consistency, which is exactly what reigning world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his tuner Roy Simmons have this weekend at the 27th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. Now they’re hoping to convert their steady Chevrolet Cobalt Pro Stock racecar into a winner on Sunday.

Coughlin and Simmons had an almost carbon-copy performance of Friday’s opening day action during Saturday’s final two time trials, following up a 6.724 at 204.98 mph and a 6.714 at 205.35 mph with a 6.714 at 205.04 mph and a 6.728 at 204.66 mph. It’s an almost uncanny grouping of elapsed times and top speeds but one they think they can capitalize on come race day.

“The car’s actually working really, really well right now,” Coughlin said. “I firmly believe we can improve our performance a little bit more and we’ll probably need to if we want to win, but I’m convinced we can run right through the field tomorrow.

“You look at all the major players in the class and we’re all within a few hundredths of a second of one another. That means you’re going to see a bunch of races decided at the starting line. The drivers will need to be perfect to get the win lights, both at the Tree and all the way down the quarter-mile. Any little misstep could end your day when it’s this close.”

For the fifth time this year, Coughlin will face good friend Justin Humphreys in eliminations as the two men prepare for a first-round battle. Coughlin has a 3-1 record versus “Hump” this year, but on this occasion Humphreys has lane choice due to his slightly quicker qualifying pass of 6.703 of 205.29 mph.

“It’s always a tough race with Hump in the other lane,” Coughlin said. “He’s looking sharp this weekend and I expect them to be fully prepared for our race. He knows we’re the defending champs of this race and how much we want to win it again, but he’s just a hungry to get a trophy. It’ll be a fight right from the start and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

By successfully qualifying for this race, Coughlin secured one of the 10 spots in the Countdown to 1 playoff system, a six-race sprint to the ’08 POWERade title.

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