INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 30) — It isn’t often that Pro Stock qualifying for an NHRA national event improves when time trials move to the daylight hours, but that’s exactly what happened Saturday at the 54th annual U.S. Nationals when reigning world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. and the rest of his counterparts in the factory hot rod class managed to step up considerably in the heat and haze of Indianapolis.

Coughlin opened the day by knocking an impressive six hundredths of a second off his opening time from Friday night when he posted a much-improved 6.683 in his Chevrolet Cobalt. He then lowered the mark even more in the third session when he tripped the timers in 6.677 at 206.26 mph.

“We’re improving every pass and that’s encouraging,” Coughlin said. “And, as it turns out, it’s become a necessity because everyone else is stepping up as well. People always bring their best to Indy and this year is no exception.”

Through the third of five qualifying rounds, Coughlin is eighth in the Pro Stock field. There are 30 drivers trying to make the 16-car elimination grid.

“If the weather cooperates we could improve some more tomorrow,” said Coughlin, a four-time winner at the U.S. Nationals. “Certainly the track is able to hold what we’ve given it so far and we’ll see if we can push that a little harder. You always want the best starting position you can have for race day but this place is so good and the competition is so close it’s really just a matter of making the show and then going for it on Monday.”

With the playoffs looming, Coughlin and crew are also interested in getting their Cobalt set up for the six-race sprint to the championship.

“We want to defend our title,” the four-time champ said. “It all starts in two weeks when we get to Charlotte but gaining maximum momentum now would go a long way towards our goal. It’s a very exciting time to be racing.”

Sunday’s final two qualifying sessions are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

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