SONOMA, Calif. (July 31) –: It took a heroic effort in the final session of Pro Stock qualifying, but Jeg’s Mail Order racer Jeg Coughlin managed to squeeze into an ever-quickening elimination field Saturday afternoon to earn a chance at the title of the 17th annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals.

Coughlin, the defending champion of this event, coaxed a 6.751 at 204.39 mph out of his sleek Chevrolet Cavalier to become the only Pro Stock racer on the premises to barge into the top 16 in the fourth and final round of time trails. Jeg’s brother Troy wasn’t as fortunate, missing the field by less than a tenth of a second.

“We managed to pick it up a bit in that final round and that was some pretty exciting stuff for this Jeg’s Mail Order race team,” Coughlin said. “We found a slight clutch malfunction from Q3 [the third qualifying session] and kind of rolled the dice and went with a set-up that we had run earlier in the year.

“We had confidence in our ability to run a number that would at least get us in the show and we were able to accomplish that. It was quite a run. We were right on the edge of being too aggressive but that’s probably what we needed to make it in the show.”

The extraordinary effort pairs Jeg against Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Line, the teammate of runaway POWERade points leader Greg Anderson. Jeg has raced Line three times this year, including one week ago in Seattle, and has one elimination-round victory against his young foe, a 6.774 to 6.764-second holeshot in St. Louis.

“We need to loosen up the band a little bit and get this thing to breathe this cool air a little better,” Jeg said. “We’re up against a great driver and car with No. 2 qualifier Jason Line but we’ve managed to get by him in St. Louis when he made a quicker run so we’ll be looking to do that again.”

The opening round of eliminations for the FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals begin at 11 a.m. PST with Top Fuel and Funny Car action preceding Pro Stock.

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