MEMPHIS (Oct. 3) — Back-to-back reigning Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his Chevrolet Cobalt crew were forced to swap motors before Saturday’s fourth and final round of professional qualifying for this weekend’s 22nd annual Midsouth Nationals. As it turns out, the new powerplant gave the team the extra boost they needed as the 61-time national event winner managed to post his best pass of the weekend — a 6.574 at 210.05 mph — that placed him a lofty fourth on the qualifying grid.
“It’s times like this when you’re really glad you have a top-notch engine shop back in North Carolina making horsepower gains every single time they put a new motor together,” Coughlin said. “You have to give the guys back at the shop all the credit for that run because that was pure horsepower there.
“The Cobalt just grabbed a hold of the track right at the starting line and we just powered down through there. Every run we’ve made this weekend has been nice and straight. I really like the way the car is running right now. My dad and Roy (Simmons, crew chief) have really worked hard to get it figured out.”
The engine change was necessitated after Coughlin encountered a highlight-reel explosion in Saturday’s first session. The cause of that problem hasn’t been discovered as of yet.
The drama wasn’t over there as Coughlin’s car stalled during the staging procedure in the final round. However, he calmly waited for his opponent to stage before firing his car up again and staging himself. After that it was smooth sailing.
“The idle was a little low and the guys got on the radio after it stalled and asked if I was okay,” Coughlin said. “At that point I was pretty much ready to go so I just waited on Mike (Edwards in the other lane) to do his deal and when he pulled in I just fired it up and went about my business. It wasn’t a big deal and I’m really glad we were able to make the run because it was obviously our best one.”
Coughlin will begin his quest for a third Memphis title against Rodger Brogdon, who qualified 13th with a 6.623 at 209.07 mph. Brogdon rents his car and motors from Coughlin’s team owner, Victor Cagnazzi. Coughlin is 3-0 against Brogdon this season.
Of note, Coughlin posted the top speed of his career Friday in Round 1 when he topped out at 210.31 mph.
Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. with Pro Stock slated for a noon start.
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