CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 26) — Although he described the opening day of the inaugural NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway as “bizarre,” four-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. took to drag racing’s latest gimmick with ease, posting two of the three quickest elapsed times of Friday’s action (6.586 and 6.591) to earn the No. 2 slot in the provisional field.

“I’ve grown up my whole life with the traditional Christmas Tree for two racecars so it was pretty bizarre to look up there and see those extra bulbs,” Coughlin said. “The Tree definitely has a different look and the format is something new, but we ended up with two good runs under two different scenarios so we’re happy.”

For the first time in national event history, NHRA is running four cars at a time in qualifying and eliminations. This racetrack is the only one on the circuit featuring four lanes. To help the drivers stage their cars, officials added extra blue bulbs to the top of the two Christmas Trees to let them know when the two cars in the opposite lanes are ready to race.

“There’s more than usual going on up there so I just got my car staged as quickly as possible and focused on my lights,” Coughlin said.

“The main thing is the Chevrolet Cobalt is running strong again. We’re building off what we started in Gainesville and just trying to stay the course. We’ve had some discussions in the past two weeks on what was working and what needed improvement and we’re going from there.”

This is a special race for Coughlin. Aside from the hoopla of four-wide racing and the fact this is one of just two tracks left on tour where he hasn’t won, Coughlin has the hopes of the entire Victor Cagnazzi Racing stable riding along with him. VCR is located in nearby Mooresville, N.C.

Qualifying resumes at noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We could see some more big times tomorrow,” said Coughlin, whose opening pass of 6.586 seconds at 209.82 mph set a track record. “It all depends on the weather. I don’t think any of us thought it would get this cool tonight but Pro Stock cars love these kind of conditions so if this cloud cover remains in place, we could all improve.”


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