TOPEKA, Kan. (May 20) — World champion drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. got a huge jump on first-round opponent V. Gaines Sunday at the 24th annual Dollar General NHRA Summernationals, but that was about all that went right.

After leaping off the starting line .038 seconds ahead of the veteran Gaines, Coughlin’s Dodge Avenger jumped up on its giant Goodyear slicks and lost traction with the racing surface of Heartland Park Topeka. In a class where the first 60-feet of the race mean everything, the issue was too big to overcome, relegating Coughlin to the sidelines much earlier than he expected.

“We thought we were in a pretty good spot,” Coughlin said. “V. Gaines has been running real well, but we felt like we could pick up from where we were during Friday night’s qualifying run. We did change motors for today and it was a whole different animal. That engine was a lot happier than the combination we ran Friday night and we simply overpowered the track.

“We were out of the race about three or four feet into the run. Problems started within the first foot, foot and a half, faster than you can snap your fingers. We just had way too much power going to the track and the car didn’t like it.”

Seeing that Gaines was zooming away to what eventually would be a winning elapsed time of 6.629 seconds at 209.10 mph, Coughlin just guided his racecar safely down the strip in 9.607 seconds at 96.89 mph.

Undeterred, Coughlin said his group will quickly regroup and be ready to race hard at the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals, which takes place May 31-June 3 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

“There’s a lot of the pieces of the puzzle to make a Pro Stock team successful,” said Coughlin, a five-time world champion. “We’ve got all the pieces; it’s just orchestrating them all that’s the secret to success. We’ve done it in the past and we’ll do it again. Right now we’ve just got to swallow that lump in our throat and get back to work.”


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