BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 10) – Temperatures soared top new highs at Brainerd International Raceway, but three-time BIR champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. managed to stay cool and ice a spot in the provisional field of the 26th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

Coughlin started strong in the sweltering heat of the day, running a 6.801-second pass at 203.77 mph in his Chevrolet Cobalt. The run placed him second overall. In the moderately cooler evening session, Coughlin improved to a 6.783 at 203.43 mph, but dropped back to ninth overall.

“It’s hard to be upset with our effort today,” he said. “We made a good opening pass and found a way to improve in the evening, which is always important. It still looks as though we left some on the table so we’ll work to improve in tomorrow morning’s first session. Hopefully it won’t be too hot by then.

“The car was just heavy feeling when I let the clutch out. I’ll go have a look and make sure I wasn’t dragging a boat anchor down the track because that’s about what it feels like when you have a slow start at the hit. I’m sure the guys will get it figured out.”

For all intents and purposes, Coughlin is strictly racing for his fourth Brainerd trophy this weekend, which would be the 50th national event win of his career. Under the new Countdown to the Championship format, only the top eight racers in Pro Stock entering the U.S. Nationals will be eligible for the 2007 crown. Coughlin secured his spot on the Western Swing.

“We still want to win these last two races before Indy,” Coughlin said. “That’s the goal.”

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