ATLANTA (May 10) — One race after racing to the top of the Pro Stock qualifying ladder in Houston, Jeg Coughlin Jr.'s Dodge Avenger remains one of the quickest in the factory hot rod class. The five-time world champion earned the No. 2 slot Friday at the rain-delayed Atlanta race, making him one of the favorites heading into Saturday's eliminations.

"We made a good first run (6.610 at 209.39 mph) and that gave us enough data to get after it in Round 2," Coughlin said. "We had to be a little conservative in the first run because we didn't know if the weather would hold for us. We ran a very respectable 6.61 and came back to the pits, looked at the data and figured we could get to 6.59 if given the opportunity. That's exactly what we did.

"Mike (Edwards) got around us by just a few thousandths so we ended up No. 2, and that's pretty exciting. We've got our 'i's' dotted and out 't's' crossed and if we can stay consistent tomorrow we should be able to turn on some win lights. I'd like to see us knock four of them off."

Coughlin's best elapsed time of 6.590 seconds at 209.75 mph sets up a first-round date with fellow Ohioan Larry Morgan, who qualified 15th with a 6.641 at 208.97 mph. Interestingly, Morgan's run of record occurred last weekend as he was one of just eight cars to make it down Atlanta Dragway before the rains came.

"We've had such a great start to the season," Coughlin said. "We've been top qualifier, we've gone to two final rounds; it's time for a win. That would be icing on the cake.

"This rain delay hasn't been easy on anyone but it sure is gratifying to see the fans back out here a week later, supporting us so well. It costs the teams and the NHRA a lot of money to come back, and it sure costs the fans a lot of money and time to return. It's never in the cards to have a cancellation. There really just wasn't much of a choice.

"The only scare at this point is the weather for tomorrow. The forecast isn't great but the weatherman is wrong some times and patterns shift so we're hoping for a big race day for all of us to enjoy.

Weather permitting, sudden-death eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. EST.


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