Sonoma, CA (August 1) : Jeg Coughlin’s quest for back-to-back victories at the 17th annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals came to an end when he lost to Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Line in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations at Infineon Raceway.

Coughlin got a slight jump on his young rival, leaving the Christmas Tree with a .039-second reaction time against Line’s .044-second launch, but at the other end of the racetrack it was Line taking the stripe first, crossing in 6.712 seconds at 206.20 mph to Coughlin’s 6.746 at 204.48 mph. Line’s run represented a career-best effort in both elapsed time and top speed.

“The car rattled the tires in the top of second-gear and that hurt us the rest of the way down the track. We really only had our run from Q-4 to use going into the first round. We will just move forward and put ourselves in a better position at the next race.”

Line’s teammate Greg Anderson went on to win the event. He remains comfortably in the POWERade points lead. Coughlin stayed in sixth place, a position he has now occupied for the last seven races.

“We are making some moves in the right direction in the engine department and we have gone back to some components that we have a data and information on. I think we have what it takes to be a top-5 car every weekend and that’s what we are shooting for at this point.”

The 23-event POWERade tour now turns its attention to Brainerd International Raceway for the 23rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, which run from Aug. 12-15 at the central Minnesota facility.

Coughlin has two wins and one runner-up finish to his credit in Brainerd. He beat Anderson in the 2002 final, which spurred Coughlin on to the POWERade championship. He also beat six-time series winner Warren Johnson during the 1999 running of the event. Coughlin’s second-place finish in Brainerd came against Johnson’s son Kurt in 2000, the first year Coughlin captured the NHRA’s Pro Stock crown.

“I always look forward to running in Brainerd. It’s a track where we have done well in the past and we seem to have a good handle on the set up going into the event. The fans are great that come out to the race and they really enjoy their racing.”

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