The 5th Annual Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge ia the Olympic Sports Complex in lake Placid, N.Y. to benefit the Bodyne Bobsled Project which designs and builds the U.S. Olympic Team Bobsleds. (Photo/Todd Bissonette - PLACID, N.Y. (Jan. 9) — Five-time world champion drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. proved to be pretty adept in his bobsled Saturday, leading Team NHRA during qualifying for the fifth annual Lucas Oil Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge presented by Whelen Engineering.

Coughlin’s 51.03-second run down historic Mount Van Hoevenberg was third quickest of the day, just behind seven-time off-road champ Carl Renezeder (50.66) and reigning NASCAR rookie of the year Joey Logano (50.79). Coughlin was followed closely by GEICO Powersports Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas (51.13) and Lucas Oil Top Fuel racer Shawn Langdon (51.22).

Pro Mod racer Melanie Troxel, the first female to ever compete in the event, posted an eighth-best 51.48 in her final pass of the day. The quickest and fastest woman in drag racing, Troxel normally drives the R2B2 Racing Voodoo Corvette.

The drivers had two chances to position themselves for Sunday’s two events, which are staged to raise money for the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project. The first race on Sunday’s slate will have all the drivers running against the clock for individual honors. The second event features an elimination-style ladder pitting Team NASCAR against Team NHRA.

“I played it pretty safe today,” said Coughlin, who also posted a 51.15. “I wanted to make sure we got down the hill on the runners after watching a few of the accidents this morning during our practice session. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

“When you reflect on a run and watch it on the TV monitors you notice so many areas where you wish you had done a little better but that’s what makes it so exciting. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s races. We’re having a blast.”

Coughlin was the only member of Team NHRA that didn’t crash on the day. Lucas, Langdon, and Troxel all turned their sleds over during the morning practice session.

“I was trying something different, driving it up a little higher in corner to get speed,” Troxel said. “I got the nose too high and lost control of the sled and it flipped over quick. I was a long way up the hill so I had a long ride down on my head. I could actually feel the road rash heating up in my shoulder so I made myself smaller and slid inside the shell.

“I’m having so much fun with the whole experience and I’m definitely getting more and more comfortable each run. I’ll make a few adjustments tomorrow so I can try and close the gap on the guys in front of me.”

Lucas is the defending champion of the NHRA vs. NASCAR portion of the race. He’s also logged a pair of podium finishes in the past during the timed portion of the event. Coughlin also had a podium finish two years ago.

The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project is the brainchild of Geoff Bodine, who attended a bobsled race more than a decade ago only to find out the U.S. athletes were using old, castoff sleds from their European counterparts. Bodine then joined forces with auto racing designer Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics in Oxford, Conn., to create “Made-in-America” bobsleds for the United States men’s and women’s national teams.

Since switching to Bo-Dyn sleds, U.S. athletes have risen to the top of the sport, winning multiple Olympic and World Cup medals in both two-man and four-man competition. They are considered favorites at the upcoming Vancouver Games.



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