READING, Pa. (Aug. 22) — Back-to-back world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. was one of a select few who managed to improve his position in the field of the 25th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals Saturday at a muggy Maple Grove Raceway.

Coughlin’s quicker 6.712 at 206.42 mph in his Chevrolet Cobalt in Saturday’s lone session lifted the 59-time national event winner into the top half of the elimination field. He’ll now enjoy lane choice over first-round foe Ronnie Humphrey, who qualified just below the five-time world champion with a 6.713 at 206.99 mph.

“As happy as I am that we were able to improve and earn lane choice we really, really wanted to make another run because I think we had some more ground to gain,” Coughlin said. “The car has gone very straight both runs here and that’s encouraging. It’s more predictable than it’s been in a few races. We just need to pick up our front half numbers a tad and we’ll be in good shape.”

It was a tough day at the racetrack as overnight rain and oppressive heat kept plenty of moisture in the air and occasionally on the racing surface. The vaunted Safety Safari did yeoman’s work in keeping the track dry enough for teams to execute passes in a safe environment.

“The conditions were a tick slower than they were yesterday evening but we still managed to run quicker,” Coughlin said. “That speaks volumes of the work our crew did on the racecar and the exceptional effort the track workers put into prepping the quarter mile.”

Coughlin entered this race No. 1 in the championship ranking, 27 points ahead of his nearest rival. He’ll try to hold that top spot through Sunday’s eliminations and the next event in Indianapolis to start the playoffs from the favored top spot.

“It won’t be easy but that’s how we like it,” Coughlin said. “This class presents an incredible challenge to the drivers and teams at every race on tour. That’s why it’s so fun to win one of these deals.”

Weather permitting, Pro Stock eliminations should begin around noon.


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