After qualifying No. 2 on the opening day of racing action at the 24th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin knew he needed to improve Saturday to stay near the top of the pack, especially after he saw the weather forecast calling for cooler conditions.

As promised, the stage was set for record times and the class as a whole delivered. Coughlin even managed to push his elapsed time lower to a 6.735-second mark at 204.85 mph in his sleek Jeg’s Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T. But several other cars also improved, some more than others, and the three-time Brainerd champion will now start race day from the No. 9 position in the field.

“We definitely thought we’d improve more than we did, especially in Q4 (Round 4 of qualifying) without a doubt,” Coughlin said. “But we were too aggressive and it held onto the engine and wouldn’t allow it to accelerate until we’d lost our chance to launch with the necessary momentum. It was like pulling a boat anchor for the first few feet.

“We still feel pretty decent overall. We have good horsepower and a really good baseline for this track so we’ll be ready to race. I expect we’ll be the first pair out in the morning so it will be as level a playing field as we’ll see. I think we have something for them.”

Coughlin will open his quest for another Brainerd trophy against Ron Krisher, who ran an identical 6.735 at a slightly faster 204.94 mph. The better speed gives Krisher lane choice, which doesn’t appear to be a big factor at this recently repaved facility. The two men have raced just one time this year with Krisher taking the win.


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