LAS VEGAS (Oct. 28) – Jeg Coughlin Jr. made it to the second round on Sunday at the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, ruining an old rival's plans in the process.

Coughlin and the Dodge Avenger were paired with Greg Anderson in the first round. For the last couple of races, Anderson had been laying back during qualifying to try and get an early matchup against Pro Stock points leader Allen Johnson.

That strategy was working as the winner of the Coughlin-Anderson matchup would indeed get Johnson in the second round, but the lower-seeded Coughlin was not going to be an easy out.

"I was happy with the car for the most part," Coughlin said. "We're running well. We're in the top handful in 60-foot times and lately we're working our way down the page."

Coughlin was out first with a .002 second reaction time to Anderson's .016. The Dodge sailed smoothly down the track as Anderson's car shook just after the hit of the throttle and coasted to the finish line.

In the end, Coughlin posted a 6.696-second lap at 205.98 mph to Anderson's 10.066-second lap at 90.77 mph.

Up next was Johnson, a fellow Mopar driver, whose Avenger has been a handful all season long.

"We knew we'd have to make a career run in the second round to beat A.J.," Coughlin said. "We went 6.69 in the first round, they went 6.63, so we were .06 behind.

"We wanted to win the round and did what we could. Of course he's a big part of this championship scene and we wish him all the best, except for when we're racing him."

The two Dodges left the line in close succession, but Coughlin shot to the right a little off the launch pad and lost momentum before losing the race. Johnson ran a 6.630-second lap at 207.98 mph to Coughlin's 7.020 at 166.60 mph.

"We've still got a lot of homework to do as far as horsepower goes," Coughlin said. "That's not new news to us. We'll get there. I've got a lot of faith in our program. I felt great behind the wheel today and just came up short."

Coughlin said the team might have a new engine combination ready for the season finale in Pomona, a place that has historically been Coughlin's personal Disneyland.

"I'm happy with where the team is today," Coughlin said. "We've not turned on as may win lights as we might have liked to, and we've done a lot of testing. We've made up a little ground.

"We'll go to Pomona with a shot to climb as high as seventh in the points. I love Pomona, it's one of my favorite tracks. It's just electric there when you go through the gates. I'll be looking forward to that."

The NHRA Full Throttle Series season will end with the Auto Club NHRA Finals running Nov. 8-11 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.



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