INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 29) — Drag racing’s biggest event — the U.S. Nationals — usually brings out the best in the competitors and Friday evening’s opening round of Pro Stock qualifying was certainly no exception. With the top 12 racers separated by just .045 seconds, reigning Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. managed to place his Cobalt in the middle of the fray with a sixth-best 6.745 at 203.86 mph.

“We’re smack in the middle of a sea of 6.73s, 6.74s, and 6.75s,” said Coughlin, the tour’s most recent winner. “The car was actually struggling to get up on its tires so we weren’t quite as aggressive as we could have been. It wasn’t out of control, it was just a little weak down low. I think everyone kind of underestimated the track that round.

“We can definitely improve. There’s no question our car has more in it. I don’t know if we’ll have a chance to move up because so much depends on the weather conditions, but I can assure you we’ll improve in relation to the field.”

A four-time Indy winner, Coughlin is comfortable on the NHRA’s biggest stage. He’s won in three different classes at this event, including two Pro Stock titles. Overall, Coughlin has 53 national event wins to his credit, 40 of which have come in the factory hot rod class.

“ORP is a great facility and we love being here,” Coughlin said. “We’re trying to have some fun this weekend and get revved up for the playoffs. It’s imperative we arrive in Charlotte in a few weeks with everything in order.

“We have the full arsenal with us this weekend. Pops (father Jeg Sr.) is here with his wife Sue. He’s a big part of this team and helps us every run, whether he’s physically here or we’re communicating over the Internet. It just so happens they were able to make it to this race so we’re thrilled about that. His experience is invaluable.

“I’m also really happy to have my brother Troy back racing this weekend in the JEGS ProMod Challenge. He’s been out for the last four months but he’s got a new car that’s shown a bunch of promise so far in testing. I’ll be cheering him on every step of the way.”

Qualifying resumes at noon and 6 p.m. Saturday.

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