POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 11) — Superstar racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. had a productive weekend of racing at the season-opening 47th annual NHRA Winternationals, walking away from the first race of the 2007 campaign in fifth place in the POWERade Pro Stock rankings. Coughlin also scored a fifth-round finish in the crowded Super Stock category.

“It was a very solid weekend for us,” the three-time world champion said. “Both my teammate Dave Connolly and I had good starts and we leave town fourth and fifth in the points. It’s hard to complain.

“Obviously, when you’ve had as much success at a track as we’ve had here (Coughlin is a fine-time winner at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona) you’re never completely satisfied unless you win the event. But, the new Countdown to the Championship rewards consistency and our racecar was very consistent all weekend.”

After a lengthy rain delay that pushed the start of eliminations back a couple of hours, Coughlin quickly dispatched two-time series champion Jim Yates with a 6.668-second, 207.27-mph pass to Yates 6.708 at 206.10 mph.

Following another rain stoppage, Coughlin returned to face reigning series champion Jason Line but lost the race early when an electrical problem surfaced that soon became an engine failure. Line won with a beatable 6.722 at 207.18 mph to Coughlin’s early shutoff 7.240 at 149.08 mph.

“The track changed up quite a bit with the rain,” Coughlin said. “Credit Jason and that team for doing a great job of preparing their car for the changes. We had some little gremlin in the engine and it just wouldn’t go. We’ll diagnose the problem and get ‘er fixed for the next race.

“Even though we lost the race, we’re happy with the way our car is responding and we look forward to a great year ahead. Being solidly in the top 10 after the first race is not a bad place to be.”

After qualifying No. 1 in his JEGS.com Super Stock Chevrolet Cavalier, Jeg was down to a handful of opponents when he red-lighted by just -.019 seconds against Jim Durham and gave away his chance to advance to the final five.

“We had Jim covered and I just gave the race away at the starting line,” Coughlin said. “No excuses, just the way it goes some times. To go five rounds deep at the first race of the year was exciting and my guys did an outstanding job with the racecar. I plan to race it a lot this year and, just like our Pro Stock car, I expect big things.”

The next race on the schedule takes place in two weeks at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix.

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