ST. LOUIS (May 2) — Reigning Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. finished Friday’s qualifying action just two thousandths of a second off the track record after posting a 6.648 at 205.85 mph in his Chevrolet Cobalt. But the 52-time national event winner says he’d be surprised if that number is enough to make the field once a predicted overnight cooling trend sweeps through the Gateway City.

“Today was just a warm-up for tomorrow,” Coughlin said. “It’s supposed to cool off quite a bit and if the cloud cover stays put we should put on quite a show for these fans. We can’t create atmosphere like the fuel guys do. We need Mother Nature to help us out. So I hope she comes through and we can let it all hang out.”

Coughlin opened with a 6.717 at 204.70 mph, which placed him eighth after one round. He then returned in the cooler evening session (Q2) and knocked seven hundredths off his elapsed time.

“That was a good comeback run,” Coughlin said. “The car was just not happy in Q1 but the guys figured it out and made the necessary changes so we were able to poke her in there a lot farther tonight. It was a good to improve the way we did and to be right up there at the top (in third place) is a really comfortable spot.

“Hopefully we can take the data we gathered today and prep the car for another big run tomorrow. It’s exciting when you know the weather will be better and quicker, but at the same time it adds a lot of pressure because you know you have to improve to stay in the show. There are 26 cars here and they all have designs on making the field.”

A three-time Pro Stock champion, Coughlin won this event in 2002.

Saturday’s final two qualifying sessions are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. at 2 p.m.

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