CHICAGO (June 29) — The temperatures dropped and so did the elapsed times as professional qualifying roared to a conclusion Saturday night at Route 66 Raceway. Five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his Dodge Avenger crew took full advantage of the mineshaft conditions in Q3, posting a blistering 6.565-second pass at 209.92 mph to lock up the No. 3 position.

Already the most decorated racer in class history at this facility, Coughlin's three lightning-quick runs in qualifying makes him one of the favorites to top Sunday's elimination ladder yet again.

"We're very pleased," said Coughlin, a four-time Chicago winner. "We were third quickest of every session so we obviously have a very consistent and very fast racecar heading into Sunday's game day.

"The cars been trying to drive left on us and we've broken out some new parts and put them on the car to try and correct that problem. So far we're pleased with the direction we're heading and we hope to have four more runs tomorrow to dial it in that much better."

By qualifying third on the grid, Coughlin has earned lane choice over first-round foe Rodger Brogdon, who got into the field in the No. 14 slot with a best of 6.634 at 202.09 mph. Coughlin and Brogdon have faced one another three times this year with Coughlin winning twice.

"I'm really looking forward to tomorrow," Coughlin said. "It's going to be a fun day. We have a Chicago hero, Mike Ditka, joining us and we'd love to turn on the win light four times for him. I'm sure the crowd will welcome him with open arms. He came down for a visit (to Ohio) a few weeks ago and now we're here in his town. It'll be fun having him out.

"I think we all enjoyed the cooler weather today and especially enjoyed no rain. If it holds like this tomorrow it should be a heckuva show for the fans. We're going to do our best to entertain them."

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. CST with the two nitro classes. Pro Stock should get underway around noon. ESPN2 will air all the elimination action.


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