TOPEKA, Kan. (May 30) — Reigning POWERade champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. shot to the top of the Pro Stock ladder in the opening day of professional qualifying at Heartland Park Topeka. The 52-time national event winner posted an aggressive 6.765 at 203.52 mph in the first round of action to earn the No. 1 slot before running a 6.756 in the evening to finish the day No. 8.

“The guys have been very determined since the last race in Bristol to get this Chevrolet Cobalt where it needs to be,” the four-time world champion said. “The car responded very well right out of the box, which is so important to a good weekend. When you start with a big number it really puts you ahead of the curve and allows the crew to fine-tune from there. You don’t have that sense that you’re chasing it.

“Joe Hornick and the guys in the engine department promised me this motor would be a screamer and they were right. We struggled with matching it to the set-up in Tennessee but obviously they found what it wanted here. I’m pumped up.”

Coughlin is currently fourth in the POWERade championship points standings, a scant 31 markers off the lead. He could gain some of that deficit back in qualifying should he stay ahead of his rivals in Saturday’s two rounds, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Temperatures soared at the racetrack Friday, reaching into the 90s at times. It’s the first time all year that crew chiefs have had to deal with intense heat and the slippery race surface it induces.

“It appears summer is here,” Coughlin said. “Which actually suits us just fine, to be honest. We went to six finals last summer and won three of those races so I think our guys know what it takes to shine when the heat is on. I wouldn’t expect anything less from them this year.

“I personally like the summertime because we generally run a big chunk of races in the summer months so you really get into a rhythm. Plus, my son Jeggie is out of school so he can come to more races with me. He’s always good luck for us.”

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