RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 6) — Jeg Coughlin Jr. took a big step towards securing a berth in the Countdown to One with his fourth low qualifying effort of the 2007 season. The three-time world champion ran a near-perfect 6.645-second quarter-mile pass at 207.27 mph Saturday morning to steal the pole away from teammate Dave Connolly.

More importantly, Coughlin’s impressive qualifying effort moved him more than a round ahead of Jason Line in the Countdown to One points rankings. Line is the closest racer to Coughlin in the points but he’ll now need to win two more rounds than Coughlin on Sunday to take his spot in the points. Prior to the race, he needed just one more round win to pass Coughlin.

“We’ll take every point we can get at this point,” Coughlin said. “It’s time to slit their throats and lock up one of these spots. We have to go rounds because any of the guys behind us could cause trouble if we don’t take care of business. We need to come in here tomorrow and race smart, race aggressive, and turn on some win lights.”

Coughlin also needs to keep an eye on Kurt Johnson, who is now 35 points back, and Larry Morgan, who trails Coughlin by 55 points. Interestingly, Kurt Johnson races Allen Johnson (no relation) in the first round. Allen Johnson is just 12 points ahead of Coughlin in the standings.

“I can’t tell you the points deal isn’t on my mind but typically once we get to race day it cools off for me,” Coughlin said. “It’s tough just getting one of those quick 16 spots so qualifying for a race is probably more trying for me. Tomorrow I just want to have a good clear mind and focus on hitting the tree and making great runs.

“Putting it on the pole was definitely a goal and to get our fourth of the year sets a career-high for me. We’ve been struggling a bit over the last several weeks but with this Countdown it’s never too late to turn it around. We’ve had three phenomenal runs here. We were second last night and quickest in both of today’s rounds. That’s real exciting and should secure the Full Throttle award for the Team JEGS crew.”

Coughlin opens eliminations against Tommy Brown, who is racing in an NHRA event for the first time in eight tries. Brown qualified 16th with a 6.699 at 205.16 mph.

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