MEMPHIS (Sept. 26) — Reigning POWERade champion and current Pro Stock points leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. only got in one of two passes Friday during the opening rounds of professional qualifying for the Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park, but he certainly made the most of his half day of work, earning the No. 8 spot with a 6.631 at 207.59 mph.

Coughlin wasn’t avoiding a full workload but his Chevrolet Cobalt was unable to make the opening run of the weekend. The veteran driver and championship team quickly determined the car was unable to make the run without hurting the engine and decided to shut the car off.

His Victor Cagnazzi Racing crew went to work fixing the problem and Coughlin was able to come back out in the early evening session and match the quickest elapsed time of Round 1. The other racers, all of whom had a round’s worth of data under their belts, took their shots and in the end, Coughlin’s lone run was good enough for eighth place overall.

“You never want to lose a session but these things happen,” Coughlin said. “Better to lose it in qualifying than on race day. I think we burn up a push rod like that maybe once every two or three years so it’s fairly rare. I was just excited to see how the team responded. Everyone got to work and fixed the problem.

“Q2 was a decent run. It looked good on the (computer) graph. There is certainly room to improve and we’ll try to do that tomorrow. We’ll be alright. I feel like we’ve already caught up from missing Q1. We probably would have run better tonight if we’d had something to tune from but the real test will be tomorrow morning because the way the weather is shaping up the first round Saturday will be the best of the weekend.”

Local forecasters are calling for cool and clear skies Saturday with Pro Stock set to begin Round 3 around 11:30 a.m.

“It’ll be in the high 60s, low 70s when we run, which should be ideal,” the 38-year-old Coughlin said. “These cars love it when it’s cooler and it’ll be fun to get after it at Memphis Motorsports Park because the last few times we’ve been here it’s either been real hot or real wet. I’m happy for the fans as much as I am for our chance to improve. They deserve this because they love and support their drag racing down here.”

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