COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sept 28)– The third edition of the JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals kicked off Friday at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio. The event, which features hundreds of the best amateur drag racers from across the country, will continue through Sunday, Sept. 30.

After one day of qualifying, Pro Stock racer Larry Morgan is the surprise leader in Competition Eliminator. Morgan, a resident of nearby Newark, Ohio, entered his Lucas Oil Dodge in the B/Altered class and posted a run of 6.998, .672-seconds under the index. Morgan, who is one of the eight Pro Stock qualifiers in NHRA’s leads a field that includes former NHRA champions Jeff Taylor, Bo Butner, David Rampy, and Sal Biondo. Other qualifying leaders are Jeff Gilman (Super Stock), Rob Lloyd (Stock), Tommy Turner (Top Sportsman) and Tom Elliott (Top Dragster).

Gillman, of Marne, Mich., posted a run of 8.82-seconds in his Pontiac Sunfire to lead the Super Stock field. Team JEGS driver John Coughlin is currently seeded second in Super Stock with his Chevy Cobalt. John Coughlin is also racing in Top Dragster and is qualified 20th after one qualifying round.

“We made a couple of solid runs today so we’re off to a good start for the weekend,” said Coughlin, who is the current Division 3 leader in Super Stock and Top Dragster. “So far, our Team JEGS cars have performed exactly as we expected them to and we should be able to use the data we gained today to make a couple of better runs tomorrow. Our whole team is really enjoying this race. The weather is nice. The cars are running well, and we’ve got a lot of people out here supporting us.”

John’s brother Mike is also participating in the JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals and is currently qualified No. 3 in the Top Sportsman class with a 6.94 best in his Chevy Cobalt. The Top Sportsman field is especially tough with eight qualifiers already in the six-second zone after just one qualifying session.

“We knew coming into this race that there would be a fast field in Top Sportsman so we came prepared for it,” said Coughlin, who is on the verge of wrapping up the Top Sportsman championship in Division 3. “That [6.94 run] was just about what I expected the car to run. I’m very happy to be third.”

Not all of Friday’s action at National Trail Raceway took place on the dragstrip. After qualifying was completed, the racers were treated to a free barbecue courtesy of JEGS Mail Order and the Texas Roadhouse restaurant.

Saturday’s busy schedule in Columbus includes several specialty races including the Mopar Performance Hemi Challenge, the JEGS Top Dragster Shootout, and class eliminations for competitors in Comp, Super Stock, and Stock. There will also be a car show and exhibition runs by nostalgia front-engine Top Fuel Dragsters and nitro-burning nostalgia Funny Cars.

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