POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 13) – Jeg Coughlin Jr. is starting the season-ending 46th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals from the lower half of the ladder, although that’s never been a stumbling block for the five-time world champion before.

The only driver in history to have won from every qualifying position, Coughlin and his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt will roll into eliminations in 13th place after a 6.579-second pass at 210.08 mph during Saturday’s last qualifying session.

“I’m actually pretty happy with our effort so far,” Coughlin said. “We pulled out a new combination at Cagnazzi Racing for the last race in Las Vegas and had a little stumble at first with the speeds. We tried it again here and eventually just decided to go back to the way we had it before. We were probably back up in the top three or four that last session so we’re back in range of the leaders, which means we have a fighting chance.”

Another factor in Coughlin’s favor is the fact that he has historically performed well at Pomona’s quarter-mile with six career victories at the track.

“I love this place,” Coughlin said. “Southern California is where drag racing began, so it’s a special place to be.”

Coughlin starts eliminations Sunday against new series champion Greg Anderson, who had a best lap of 6.554 at 211.39 mph, which placed him fourth overall. Adding intrigue to the proceedings is the fact Coughlin announced he’ll be stepping away from Pro Stock in 2011 for a less hectic Sportsman schedule.

“It’s starting to sink in a little that we won’t be in Pro Stock, at least for the foreseeable future,” Coughlin said. “I can tell you right off that I’m gonna miss the regular interaction with the fans. They are, without question, what has driven me these last few years and although we’ll see them at select events when we’re running our Sportsman cars, we won’t see them as much.

“I hope we can go out there tomorrow and end the year on high note. I think we might have something for them. We’ll have to see how it turns out.”

Eliminations for the Auto Club NHRA Finals begin at 11 a.m. PST from Auto Club of Southern California Raceway at Pomona. All action will be shown on ESPN.


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