HOUSTON (March 30) — Reigning POWERade Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. has an enviable race day record of 355-165, one of the best winning percentages ever. So when the 52-time national event winner gives away a race by fouling out at the starting line, like he did Sunday at the O’Reilly Spring NHRA Nationals, it’s noteworthy.

For just the ninth time in his career, Coughlin left before the green light came on, negating a sure quarterfinal win over a broken Allen Johnson that would have kept him in the points lead. Instead, Coughlin left Houston Raceway Park three points behind eventual race winner Greg Anderson, who held the points lead after the first two races of the season before Coughlin took it away with his win in Gainesville, Fla.

“It happens,” said Coughlin, who was six-thousandths of a second early at the Christmas Tree. “We had the car to win the round but I just clubbed it too much. I felt good and I guess maybe a little too good, but that’s drag racing.”

“It’s a shame for the guys because they work just as hard for a loss as they do for a win but we operate as a team over here. Some times the driver saves the crew and some times the crew saves the driver. All we can do is move on to Las Vegas and get that points lead back from Greg.”

Coughlin opened eliminations with a strong 6.658 at 206.64 mph to easily dismiss rookie Rickie Jones, who broke. It was Coughlin’s best pass of the entire event. He even had lane choice against Johnson, who ran a 6.686 in Round 1, but couldn’t capitalize on the situation.

“It takes nothing away from what we’ve accomplished this year,” Coughlin said. “It’s part of drag racing and it’s why we try to maintain a balance of not getting too high when we win or too low when we don’t. There are too many ups and downs in this sport for that. We’ll be fine and I’m already looking forward to Vegas.”

The next race on the POWERade Drag Racing Series will be held April 10-13 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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