ATLANTA (April 27) — Reigning POWERade Pro Stock champion had a strong semifinal showing at Atlanta Dragway to maintain a firm grip on the No. 2 ranking in the championship points standings.

After his race team returned his Chevrolet Cobalt to the set-up they had at the start of the year, Coughlin returned to championship form on race day, beating six-time world champion Warren Johnson in Round 1 and low qualifier Ron Krisher in the quarterfinals before bowing to Mike Edwards in the semis on a holeshot.

Coughlin had the quicker car against Edwards but the veteran from Oklahoma pulled off a cosmic .008-second reaction time against Coughlin’s .037-second start to win with a 6.667 at 206.54 mph over Coughlin’s 6.657 at 206.29 mph.

“Mike did a great job,” Coughlin said. “I thought I hit the Tree really well. If you would have asked me what my reaction time was when I got out of the car I would have said .015 or so. But it was a .037 and that was just slow enough to allow Mike to get the win. As a driver you always hate to give one away like that but it does happen.”

Coughlin was quickest of Round 2 and second quickest of the opening session, pleasing the 52-time national event winner quite a bit.

“The car’s really happy right now,” he said. “The guys have done an outstanding job of getting this thing to run straight and fast and it’s a joy to drive. We’re not the last man standing today but my chin’s up and I’m excited to get to St. Louis for next weekend’s race at Gateway International Raceway.

“The bottom line is that Pro Stock racing these days requires perfection in the shop, perfection in the pits, and perfection on the track. We almost put all that together today so we’re very pleased.”

The 12th annual O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals begin Friday in Madison, Ill., which is just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis.


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