READING, Pa. (August 20) — Jeg Coughlin Jr. might have been the only drag racer at Maple Grove Raceway that was happy the 23rd annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals were delayed one day by rain. Coughlin spent the better part of the weekend recovering from acute sinusitis and the extra day of rest and recovery suited him just fine.

“It probably played right into my hands,” Coughlin said Monday morning. “I felt normal again this morning for the first time in several days. I was ready to race.”

Coughlin’s improved health and clear head allowed him to record a stellar .011-second reaction time against first-round opponent Kurt Johnson, who left with a solid .019-second reaction time of his own. Usually, when Coughlin’s Chevrolet Cobalt is the first out of the blocks it spells disaster for the other driver, but on this day Johnson was able to catch and pass Coughlin to win the race by three-thousandths of a second.

The time slip showed Johnson running a 6.635 at 208.33 mph to Coughlin’s 6.646 at 207.24 mph.

“It was just a great drag race,” Coughlin said. “We both raced the wheels off our cars and he caught me right at the end. It was very close down there and I had to look at the win light to see who had won. I’ve certainly won my share of close races this year. This time it went the other way. I find it hard to complain.

“The car probably had a tad more in it but that’s just how drag racers think. I mean, have you ever met a drag racer that was 100-percent happy with a run? We’ll be fine and we’re excited to get to Indy and start the Countdown to Four.”

Coughlin secured a position in the new Countdown to the Championship playoff system several races ago. The next phase of the playoffs starts at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis at the end of the month with the Countdown to Four.

“Dave (Connolly, teammate) and I certainly have our eyes on two of those four spots,” Coughlin said. “We’ll be pulling our top motors out for Indy and we’ll be ready to make that charge. We didn’t want to hurt our best pieces this weekend because we had both clinched spots in the Countdown deal. Now we’ve got four races to get in that final group of four drivers that can win the championship and the racing will be intense.”

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