BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 15) — After an extensive test session the week before this weekend’s event, reigning Chevrolet Cobalt would be ready to race this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway. But, as is often the case in drag racing, things haven’t exactly gone as planned.

Coughlin finished the rain-abbreviated qualifying sessions of the 28th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in 11th place overall. It’s the first time all season the current point leader didn’t secure a top-half spot but the 59-time national event winner seemed mostly unfazed.

“Bob Frey, the great announcer for NHRA, told me last week that we’re the only race team in history to have won a race from every qualifying spot so I guess it really is true that you can win from anywhere as long as you make the cut,” Coughlin said. “Certainly, we were hoping for a little more in qualifying but the last run we made was very encouraging and I’m confident we’ll be able to respond well tomorrow.”

Coughlin’s best run was a 6.752 at 204.85 mph, which places him opposite part-timer Vinnie Deceglie, who went 6.729 at 204.05 mph in his Dodge Stratus.

“There are no easy races and Vinnie obviously has a handle on his car so we’ll need to be ready for a fight right out of the gate,” Coughlin said. “It’s times like this when you’re glad you have a team full of guys that know how to take care of business.

“We’re focused on hitting the Countdown to 1 at full stride. We have three races left, including this weekend, to get up to speed so every pass will be important. The car started coming around today so I think we’ll be in good shape. If we hadn’t gotten rained out we would have run a 6.70 tonight and we’d be right there with the big guns.”

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m.




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