BRISTOL, Tenn. (July 8) — Jeg Coughlin Jr. scored his 49th career victory Sunday by beating longtime racer Kenny Koretsky in the final of the seventh annual Thunder Valley Nationals. Coughlin had to chase Koretsky down Bristol Dragway after leaving the starting line last, but his Chevrolet Cobalt had the horsepower to reel him in just before the finish line to earn him his 36th Pro Stock win by .002 seconds.

Starting the day as the No. 1 qualifier, Coughlin looked steady in wins over V. Gaines, Jim Yates, and Justin Humphreys. It wasn’t until the final when he was really challenged by Koretsky’s quick start. In the end, however, Coughlin’s 6.809 at 203.22 mph was just enough to beat Koretsky’s 6.839 at 201.82 mph.

“Wow, what a day, and what a win,” Coughlin said. “Ol’ Kenny was on his game today, killing the Christmas Tree every round, but luckily our Cagnazzi motors had the power for me to barely win that last round. And when I say barely, I mean barely, just two-thousandths of a second margin of victory is nothing. He was right there next to me at the stripe.”

“There’s been a Cagnazzi Racing car in the last six finals and between me and my teammate Dave Connolly and we’ve each won two so that tells me the entire team has been working extremely hard to make us look good. Today they gave me a flawless car. I was slow letting the clutch out a few times; that was the only issue we had. Otherwise everyone was totally on their game. They picked me up today.”

For his career, Coughlin has 49 wins in 75 career finals. His record in Pro Stock is 36-21. The rest of his wins and final round totals were accumulated in the sportsman ranks.

Entering this event, Coughlin was 167 points behind leader Greg Anderson. Now, considering his win and Anderson’s Round 1 loss, Coughlin is just 86 points back. Each round of competition is worth 20 points. There are also points awarded for qualifying position.

“We’re sneaking up on Greg in the points and it’s gonna get really exciting when they reset them at the U.S. Nationals in September,” Coughlin said, alluding to the Countdown to the Champion format that will reduce the championship field down to eight cars in early September. “KB Racing has been a picture of consistency the last four years and they have the championships to show for it. To see our team come this far along and challenge them like this is really exciting.”

The 37-year-old Coughlin, who hails from Delaware, Ohio, will race again Friday in Denver at the Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.

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