LAS VEGAS (Oct. 28) — Jeg Coughlin showed the cool confidence of a three-time world champion Saturday when he overcame a forgettable first day of qualifying at the sixth annual ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals and successfully placed his Slammers Ultimate Milk/ Chevrolet Cobalt solidly in the field of this weekend’s event.

Coughlin rode through cool, agreeable conditions and posted a steady 6.747-second pass at 203.68 mph to earn the No. 8 position in the quickest 16-car grouping in the history of the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. At the start of the day he was outside the field looking in with just two chances to move up.

“This was a good rebound day for us,” Coughlin said. “Coming into Saturday unqualified added a whole new level of pressure to the situation. It’s times like this when you’re glad to have a good, strong team behind you. We came out and put a number up there that put us deep on the field so now we can relax a bit and get ready to race.

“You’re not nervous, per se, when you get down to the wire and you haven’t made a good run. These POWERade races are hard to win if you’re not in the field so the first thing you always need to do is just make a pass that gets you in that top 16.”

As the No. 8 qualifier, Coughlin will enter race day with lane choice over Kurt Johnson, who qualified 9 with a 6.748.

“Race day is a fresh start for all of us,” Coughlin said. “The weather is supposed to be the same but the track will probably go away a bit because we follow the nitro guys instead of going in front of them like we do in qualifying. That alters the condition of the starting line but it’s something we all have to deal with.”

This is just the second race of the year for Coughlin as he sat out the first 20 events while tending to the family’s mail order parts business. He stayed sharp in the down time by running a multitude of high-dollar bracket races.

“I’ve actually got more seat time this year than probably any year I’ve driven as a professional,” he said. “But it is good to be back with the big boys running in Pro Stock. I missed it and I’m awfully glad to be back. Now we need to go out there and win this race and make my comeback that much more memorable.”

Sunday’s eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

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