CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 12) — The Countdown to 1 playoffs are off to a great start for reigning POWERade Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. as the driver of the Chevrolet Cobalt ends the opening day of professional qualifying in the lofty No. 2 position. Coughlin posted a quick 6.684 at 206.73 mph Friday evening to earn the slot, placing him just .004 seconds off the top spot.

“What a great start,” Coughlin said. “That’s exactly what we were looking for. Being that this is a brand new track everyone was kind of feeling it out to see what we could get away with. We certainly feel like we have a lot more to get out of our tune-up so to be No. 2 at this point is very exciting. I expect we can improve tomorrow.”

Coughlin entered this year’s six-race playoff stretch in third place, which put him 40 points behind leader Greg Anderson. He wasted little time establishing himself as a frontrunner, opening with sixth-best 6.711 before storming up the ladder with his 6.684.

“We’ve been using the word ‘momentum’ a lot over the last few races and this start here only helps our cause,” Coughlin said. “There’s some racing to do, for sure, with six to go before we’re done, and it all starts right here. Every point is critical, so qualifying well and getting a point or two on the other guys is big.”

Victor Cagnazzi, who owns Coughlin’s car as well as the hot rod of Dave Connolly, lives in the Charlotte area. Victor Cagnazzi Racing is located in nearby Mooresville, N.C., so the race is a bit of a homecoming for the former New Yorker.

“We have lots of guys that work at the shop that can’t come to many races so it’s fun to be in their backyard and welcome them and their families into the pits,” Coughlin said. “Plus, being here in the heart of NASCAR Country, there are a ton of shop guys from all the major NASCAR teams that didn’t go to New Hampshire that are here and have stopped by to say hi. Some are old friends and some are new acquaintances, but we’re having fun with all of them.

“This has been a great event so far and this facility is first-rate. We just need to stay the course and keep this JEGS car out front.”

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