POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 14) — Defending series Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. moved to within one day of securing his fifth world title and fourth in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock category. All Coughlin needs to do is qualify for this weekend’s 44th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals and the title is his alone. Currently, at the midway point of qualifying, he’s a comfortable ninth in the field with a 6.678 at 206.95 mph.

“We were testing some things today and got a little too aggressive,” Coughlin said of Friday’s aborted Round 2 pass. “The car wasn’t real happy and made a move to the wall so I clicked it off. There’s certainly no reason to do anything goofy at this point.

“We’re going to change everything back to the Las Vegas set-up from two weeks ago. We were No. 1 qualifier there and won the race so it’s a tried and true combination. Even though we’ve got the title in our grasp, we’d still like to end the season with another win, so we’ll get after it tomorrow and try to move up the ladder.”

Temperatures soared in the San Gabriel Valley, keeping most of the top cars in check. However, the day ended with a new provisional qualifying leader in Jason Line, who posted a 6.658 at 208.39 mph, .02 seconds ahead of Coughlin.

“I think we’re in for a very interesting race day because the dynamic has shifted a bit,” Coughlin said. “There’s a sense among all of the other racers that there’s nothing to lose so everyone is just going all out and trying things. Teams want to finish as high as they can in the points so it’s getting crazy. It’s going to be fun.

“In our camp, all the gang is coming in to end the year with a bang. Lot’s of my buddies from back home are flying over. My Dad and step-mom Sue are here, which is so special for me. Dad has been such a great tool for this race team to use and he’s a big part of this, without question.

“I know Victor Cagnazzi, our team owner, has a big group as well. It’ll be nice to get through with qualifying, get the championship sealed up, and then juts have some fun Sunday and try to win a drag race. That’s the plan.”

The final two sessions of Pro Stock qualifying are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

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