Jeg Coughlin has made exactly one run down Bristol Dragway — a 6.839 at 201.01 mph. Fortunately for him, it was strong enough to place his Jeg’s Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T in the No. 4 qualifying position of the fifth annual O’Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Q Power. The event has been plagued by rain so far and three of the four scheduled time trails were cancelled outright.

Coughlin’s steady run solicited a big shy of relief from his Don Schumacher Racing teammates because it was fairly obvious that another rain shower was looming. There have only been two previous times in NHRA history when the elimination field of an event has been set with just one round of qualifying completed and Coughlin and crew wanted to make absolutely sure they had a spot in the sweet 16 that race on Sunday.

“We only got one hit so we did pretty well to get down the track and end up No. 4,” Coughlin said. “We had to set her up soft because we knew the track was very green with all the rain we got yesterday and this morning so we couldn’t be too aggressive. We’re happy to be in and even though we would have loved to have made some more runs, we’ll get ready for race day and get after it.”

For the second race in a row, Coughlin will open eliminations against fellow two-time Pro Stock champion Jim Yates. The two have split their previous two meetings this year, with Coughlin coming out on top at the last race in Las Vegas. Due to his superior time and speed, Coughlin will have lane choice over Yates, who qualified 13th with a 6.863 at 200.47 mph.

Bristol Dragway is the only racetrack on the current NHRA schedule where Coughlin has not won a national event, although he did win the $50,000 Winston “No Bull” Showdown here in 1999.

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