GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 15) — Troy Coughlin was surprisingly upbeat after missing the 16-car elimination field of the 39th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals. The driver of the Pontiac GTO was forced to shut-off very early in both of his qualifying attempts, surrendering his chance at big numbers when his racecar made wild moves to the left as soon as he let out the clutch in both sessions.

“We’re not sure why it did that,” Coughlin said. “Fortunately, our car builder, Jerry Haas, is here at this event and he’s going over the car from front to back to see if it’s a chassis issue. We’ve already made arrangements to stay and test Monday and Tuesday so we’ll figure this thing out and get back after it in Houston.

“It appears the powerplant is solid. We only made a few preseason test runs but we were encouraged with what we saw there. Of course, we would have loved to have had the round we lost to rain yesterday back but we all had the same shortened schedule to deal with.”

Coughlin opened with a 10.929 at 81.15 mph, and posted a 9.733 at 92.42 mph in the second round, a pass in which he lightly scrubbed the left-side retaining wall.

“The car did adjust to the changes we made between sessions,” Coughlin said. “We just didn’t do enough. As for the wall, I barely touched it. It was literally a rub on the paint; that was it. I’m fine and the car is fine.”

Coughlin will now prep for the upcoming 21st annual O’Reilly Spring NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park. The race runs from March 28-30.

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