LAS VEGAS (Jan. 31) — One year after winning the annual preseason Pro Stock Showdown, five-time NHRA champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. settled for runner-up honors Saturday night, falling to veteran Allen Johnson in his brand-new Chevy Cobalt.

“Chris Blair and his group here at The Strip obviously do a great job with track prep and the SMI facilities are always race ready,” Coughlin said. “This event helps get things kicked off for the Pro Stock class and it gives you an opportunity to see who’s been working hard in the off-season.”

Entering the race as the No. 1 qualifier, Coughlin’s pole-grabbing elapsed time of 6.683 was .02 seconds quicker than the track record of 6.703 he set in early November during the eighth annual ACDelco NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, an event Coughlin won.

In the opening round against Bob Yonke, Coughlin coolly posted a .028-second reaction time and zipped to a 6.686 at 205.91 mph to advance to the quarterfinal round, where he had a bye run of 6.717 at 205.41 mph. Both runs marked the quickest ETs of the session.

In the semifinals against former NBA professional Tom Hammonds, Coughlin used a fantastic .007-second reaction time to beat his lofty foe on a .019-second holeshot and carried the head start to a 6.726 to 6.718-second victory.

“It feels great to get back behind the wheel,” Coughlin stated. “We came here with a new car we built in-house and left the car we ran for the last two seasons in the shop. That’s confidence in your team and the skills they have. We got a lot out of our testing and we are ready to go to Pomona and get things officially started. This season is going to be exciting in Pro Stock.”

All the professionals will now head across Death Valley and into southern California for the season-opening 49th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, which begin Thursday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

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