POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 10) — After five days of watching it rain at Auto Club Raceway, back-to-back series champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. finally got to race Tuesday, going one up and one down to post a quarterfinal finish that ranks him fifth in the Pro Stock points after the season-opening event.

After qualifying sixth with a 6.629 at 208.23 mph in his brand-new JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt, Coughlin beat veteran and fellow Ohioan Larry Morgan in Round 1 when Morgan left early and was disqualified. He then fell to Allen Johnson after the Mopar driver posted the second quickest pass in history, a 6.549 at 209.92 to edge out Coughlin’s 6.588 at 208.88 mph.

“I actually expected to see a bunch of low 6.5s in Round 1 but no one really got a hold of the track, including us,” he said. “I knew everyone would figure it out after that and sure enough we saw a 6.52 and two 6.54s in the quarterfinals, so the conditions were definitely there.

“We got lucky in Round 1 when Larry went red because, although we had an incredible 60-foot time of .968 seconds, the car moved towards the wall and I had to abort the run. That cost us lane choice in Round 2, which certainly didn’t help matters.

“Roy Simmons and my Dad looked the data over from Round 1 and made an aggressive call because we knew the right lane was probably a hundredth and a half slower then the left lane. It was definitely hopped up and carried the front tires a good ways out there. We were looking for about 6.56 or so and make Alan beat us and that’s pretty much the way it went down. He had the better car today and took the win.”

As the highest-qualified racer of this event’s quarterfinalists, Coughlin assumes fifth place in the first Full Throttle points rankings. He’ll try to improve in that spot Feb. 20-22 at the 25th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway on the outskirts of Phoenix.

“Although it was a long, long weekend here I feel as though we learned some things that will help us in Phoenix,” Coughlin said. “Drag racing isn’t a sport where you can get too high or two low after just one weekend so we’ll just move on down the road and start fresh at Firebird.”

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