It definitely was do-or-die time.
So with the pressure at its highest point this season, Coughlin coolly answered the call, posting a stunning 6.647 at 207.40 mph to jump from 26th to third place and move from also-ran to contender status.
“It was big drama, without question,” he said. “We knew we had a top two or three car based on our speed and back-half performance. We just needed the car to accelerate in the front half of the track.
“It’s something we worked on in the beginning of the week in testing but it wasn’t until the third round here that we got the car to go straight. Then we were able to tune from there and we took a big shot there in Round 4 and it stuck.
“I went into fifth gear probably a little early in anticipation of the bumps out there in the right lane and the car just slid right over them. It was a great run at the perfect time.”
Coughlin’s run pits him against Erica Enders in Sunday’s opening round of eliminations, scheduled to begin around noon CST. Enders qualified for her second race of the year in the 14th slot with a 6.685 at 206.32 mph.
“If we can run like we did just now we’ll be tough for anyone to race,” Coughlin said. “I even dropped my jaw a little when Roy (Simmons, crew chief) came on the radio and said we went 6.64. I thought we were going to run a 6.67 or 6.68 so it went well past my expectations and put us solidly into the show.”
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