ATLANTA (April 26) — Pro Mod veteran Troy Coughlin was shaken but otherwise uninjured after crashing hard into the retaining wall of Atlanta Dragway during Saturday’s first round of eliminations in the JEGS ProMod Challenge.

The accident overshadowed an upset-filled opening round where four drivers from the bottom half of the ladder advanced. Ninth-place qualifier Roger Burgess beat Shelly Payne with a 6.08. Tenth-place Jay Payne avenged his wife’s loss by beating Kirk Kuhns, 6.06 to 6.11. Eddie Ware got past a higher-ranked Mike Ashley, who encountered severe tire shake, while Tony Pontieri won when No. 5 qualifier Coughlin impacted the wall.

After qualifying for the first time this year, Coughlin launched hard and pulled the wheels up on his Pontiac GTO before his car started to shake the rear tires in the right lane. He did a quick pedal job to calm it down but a sudden move to the retaining wall resulted in a hard hit. He then drifted over the centerline, well behind Pontieri, and brushed the left side before idling down to the top end.

“I’m okay,” Coughlin said after being examined and released by NHRA doctors and medical personnel at the racetrack. “Sometimes that tire shake will clear itself up but it didn’t this time and I probably kept my foot in it a tad too long. We were up for the race and excited to get our first round win of the year.

“I feel bad for the guys because they’ve worked very hard on this car and we qualified so well. Everyone was just sky-high in the JEGS pit. We’ll have to evaluate what happened and see about fixing this car, if it can be fixed.

“I’m so happy Tony was well down the track and that we didn’t get tangled up. I’d have felt 10 times worse if I’d collected him up in this mess. The main thing is I’m alright. The rest of this stuff can be replaced.”

The other drivers to advance include the top four qualifiers, who all earned lane choice in Round 2, which takes place Sunday afternoon. Low qualifier Ray Commisso will face Burgess, John Russo squares off with Pontieri, Danny Rowe races Jay Payne, and Steve Engel will test Ware.

ROUND ONE — Roger Burgess, Chevy Corvette, 6.080, 238.85 def. Shelly Payne, Dodge Stratus, 6.729, 198.90; Jay Payne, Chevy Camaro, 6.067, 237.09 def. Kirk Kuhns, Willys, 6.115, 231.91; Eddie Ware, Pontiac Firebird, 6.067, 235.56 def. Mike Ashley, Camaro, 7.821, 116.98; Tony Pontieri, Chevy Bel Air, 6.209, 235.02 def. Troy Coughlin, Pontiac GTO, broke; John Russo, Firebird, 5.991, 241.80 def. Scott Ray, Corvette, 15.965, 40.31; Steve Engel, Corvette, 5.988, 240.85 def. Harold Laird, Corvette, 6.435, 183.89; Danny Rowe, Camaro, 6.059, 237.63 def. Taylor Lastor, Camaro, 6.237, 195.73; Raymond Commisso, Firebird, 6.020, 243.63 def. Rick Stivers, Shelby GT, 6.116, 230.53.

Information regarding JEGS ProMod Challenge can be found at

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