CHICAGO (July 1) – The individual pieces are showing a lot of promise for Jeg Coughlin Jr. and the JEGS / Mopar Dodge Avenger, the next step is to blend all that potential into a few round wins on Sunday.

Coughlin lost to No. 1 qualifier Allen Johnson in the first round of Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, but Coughlin’s time was solid enough that it was better than several other first-round winners in Pro Stock.

“The timing was just off,” Coughlin said. “We just did a real poor job in qualifying and got qualified in the 16th spot and that puts us next to the fastest guy. It is not impossible, but a little bit taller order.”

Coughlin had a slight edge at the starting line but his 6.643 second pass at 208.20 mph wasn’t enough to keep Johnson at bay. Johnson’s winning pass was a 6.618 at 209.04 mph.

“We tried to chop him down, but our .64 wasn’t a match-up for a .61,” Coughlin said. “He was on time on the tree. You know we had them a little bit, but couldn’t have beaten him — mathematically speaking. We just have to get qualified better. Hopefully get in the top eight, but if not at least up to where you don’t have to run one of the consistently faster cars right off the bat.

“Yes, we ran good, but we did get beat and that hurts. It does give us a little bit of optimism.”

However, unlike some other weekends this season, the JEGS team has a specific plan of attack for the next race on the schedule.

“We have already discussed our strategy for Norwalk,” Coughlin said. “It looks like we have a pretty strong car. We definitely have a direction and a better feeling on how we are approaching things.

“I think we have proved ourselves as a team. We have all the pieces here. We have all the parts here. We have the right people in place. It is just a matter of having a good four-day execution.”

Up next for the team is a home state race in Newark, Ohio on July 6-8.

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