INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 3) — Three-time Indy champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. had points leader Greg Anderson right where he wanted him, lined up in the opposite lane in the first round of this year’s U.S. Nationals. Coughlin even had lane choice at a track where that advantage seemed pretty big.

Unfortunately, in the biggest upset of the opening session, Anderson took advantage of a malfunction in the Chevrolet Cobalt and was able to beat Coughlin with the second slowest elapsed time of the round. Anderson’s 6.738 at 206.89 mph proved to be more than enough for Coughlin’s resigned 7.073 at 157.80 mph.

“We’re very disappointed,” Coughlin said. “This being the first race of the Countdown to Four, we had a great chance to really start this four-race run to the next phase of the championship with some momentum. It just wasn’t meant to be.

“We made five pretty good runs in qualifying and were happy with the car for the most part. Something just went away today and we’ll have to analyze everything to make sure we fix the problem.

“I feel for the guys because the workload and the stress is the same whether you win the race or lose in the first round. It just feels a lot better to win, or at least go rounds. We’ll have to find a quick way to get over it and make up for this in Memphis when we get back to racing in two weeks.”

Starting the day third in the points, Coughlin will leave town no worse than fifth depending what happens later in the day.

“There are three races left before the next cutoff so we just need to make sure and limit our mistakes from here on out,” Coughlin said. “The Countdown to Four has put a premium on every round of action. We’ll miss three rounds today so we need to make sure we gain a few back next time out. That’s really all we can do at this point.

“I thank all the supporters of JEGS that came out this weekend and cheered for us. It was a fun weekend. You always see a bunch of friends and fellow racers here that you might not normally see and that’s a neat part of Indy.”

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