HOUSTON (March 29) — POWERade points leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. finished qualifying for the 21st annual O’Reilly Spring NHRA Nationals feeling as though his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt Pro Stocker wasn’t performing at its highest level. Even so, the four-time and reigning world champion managed to secure a spot in the top half of the 16-car elimination field with a best quarter-mile clocking of 6.673 at 207.37 mph.

“Lady Luck seems to be avoiding us this weekend for some reason,” Coughlin said. “The tune-up was a little lazy this morning and the car jumped out of second gear in the afternoon session so it wasn’t one of our better days. Everything just seemed a little off.

“The encouraging thing is the data we’ve gathered has shown us exactly what the car wants us to do. Now it’s just a matter of putting that recipe together and racing to our potential.”

A 52-time national event winner, Coughlin has good reason to be less than thrilled with a seventh-place qualifying effort. So far this season, his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt has qualified second, third, and sixth on the grid and his race day efforts have produced a win, a runner-up, and a semifinal result.

“Racers are wired to always want more,” Coughlin said. “In no way am I displeased with the effort this team has shown this weekend. We all just expect the very best each time out. In my experience, little downticks end up pushing us to even greater heights.”

A veteran of 216 professional-level events, Coughlin opens race day against newcomer Rickie Jones, who is competing in just his second NHRA Pro Stock race. Jones qualified 10th overall with a best of 6.680 at 206.13 mph. As the higher qualified racer, Coughlin will enjoy the advantage of picking his lane in Round 1.

“The right lane appears to be better for the Pro Stock cars so barring big changes overnight or with the cars that run in front of us tomorrow morning, we’ll be on that right side,” Coughlin said. “I’m sure Rickie will be excited and ready and we’ll need to be on our game to beat him.”

Coughlin is currently 45 points clear of the second-place driver in the points, which equates to slightly more than two rounds of elimination action.

Eliminations begin at noon.

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