Turning in his best qualifying performance of the 2005 season, Jeg Coughlin has positioned his Jeg’s Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T in the No. 2 spot at the halfway point of professional qualifying for the 24th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. Coughlin used the cooler evening session to clock a track-record 6.739-second pass at 204.82 mph, which was later bettered by just one other racer.

“We made two solid runs and we’re right near the top of the charts,” Coughlin said. “We’re pretty happy. After the first session we were No. 9 with a 6.79 and we knew there was room for improvement. We wanted to get the car to repeat but also to go quicker. Bob [Glidden, crew chief] made some non-traditional changes and it liked it. I mean the No. 1 guy is just two hundredths better than us at this point.”

Proving his Don Schumacher-owned racecar is ready for competition, Coughlin’s teammate Richie Stevens backed up Coughlin’s performance in his mirror-image Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T, running a 6.749 at 204.39 mph to put himself in third place overall.

“The track was absolutely gorgeous in both lanes,” Coughlin said. “The air is always good here and it was cool enough today. We’re not jumping up and down but we’re pretty happy in this pit right now, on both sides.”

Things could change dramatically in the final two qualifying rounds, which are schedule for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday. The weather forecast calls for a slight cooling trend, placing a premium on the morning session.

“I think we’ll see a bunch of cars in the 6.60s,” Coughlin said. “We run at 10 a.m. and it should be perfect. I want us to improve by at least five hundredths. If we do, we’ll be right there in the mix. This is pretty exciting for the fans. They’re getting their money’s worth today.”


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