“The car tried our skills and our patience today,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin and the JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt started Saturday needing to improve to earn a spot in the elimination field of the 25th annual Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals. After Saturday’s first qualifying session, the five-time world champion still had work to do after a wire in the engine malfunctioned and he had abort his run after the burnout.
That drama was followed by a five-plus hour rain delay and doubts if there would even be a fourth qualifying round. Thankfully, the rains did move through and Coughlin was able to make a fourth run – a pass of 6.687 seconds at 207.40 mph – good enough for the No. 16 spot.
Coughlin now has a date with No. 1 qualifier Allen Johnson.
“A hundred percent of the things that tied us up today were out of our control,” Coughlin said. “In the final round, we kept the thing lit and snuck our way in. The one thing we do have in our control is how we prepare the car and me getting it down the racetrack.”
Johnson qualified No. 1 with a best pass of 6.611 seconds at 209.04 mph. Coughlin said despite the difficulties he and the team encountered, the JEGS.com Chevy has plenty of power under the hood to compete with Johnson.
“We’ve got good data for tomorrow,” Coughlin said. “Looking at the run, there’s no question now we’ve got more left in this thing. There’s some opportunity there.”
Shaking things up from the bottom of the ladder is nothing new to Coughlin. He’s won from all 16 starting positions over the course of his storied career, and as recently as last week, Coughlin beat NHRA Pro Stock points leader Mike Edwards from out of the No. 15 hole.
“I’m excited and glad we were able to make the final 16 for tomorrow,” Coughlin said. “That would have been a pretty hard blow to our program. When you are 16 you have to run the best guy who qualified and A.J. has been running extremely well, but we’ll give him a race.
“We’ll look to do the same thing we did last weekend.”
Eliminations for the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries Nationals begin at 11 a.m. CDT from Texas Motorplex. ESPN2’s coverage of the race will start at 6 p.m. with live coverage of the race on ESPN3 starting at 11 a.m.
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