POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 13) — All Jeg Coughlin Jr. needs to do to secure his fourth POWERade championship is qualify for this weekend’s 44th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals. He took a big step in that direction Thursday by running a safe 6.678 at 206.95 mph in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt to earn the eighth spot in the provisional field.

“We didn’t want to do anything silly and get behind,” Coughlin said, “especially this weekend. We’ve got a great car here, obviously, with us coming off a win in Las Vegas, and we all know what needs to be done. That was a good, but not great, start.

“Our goal was actually to be in the top five but it was extremely violent down low. I almost aborted the run. Then I grabbed second gear and it smoothed out enough to continue. When they told me we had a 6.67 on the radio I actually chuckled. It probably shouldn’t have been that good. I guess this car runs good even when things aren’t perfect.”

Coughlin’s teammate at Victor Cagnazzi Racing, Dave Connolly, did manage to qualify on top of the 20-car field with a 6.660 at 207.75 mph.

“That was great to see,” Coughlin said. “It’s always good to have one of us on top because we share info with them. Plus, I know we gave up a good two hundredths of a second at least on our run so to be within range of the No. 1 spot is exciting.

“I’m really enjoying this whole experience. Last year was pretty nerve-wracking going down to the final day of the year. This time we can enjoy what we’ve done a little more. I’m so proud of the guys and this entire organization. We just need to be smart and close this deal out. Then we can work on going out with another victory.”

Due to local noise ordinances, qualifying for national events at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona is spread over three days. There will be one session Friday and two more Saturday before Coughlin can officially close the deal.

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