NORWALK, Ohio. (June 28) — Shrugging off a Friday lost to problems with water seeping up through the track, defending series champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. earned the No. 2 qualifying position early Saturday in the first of just two remaining qualifying sessions with a 6.726 at 205.04 mph in his Chevrolet Cobalt.

With a large contingent of friends, family members, and co-workers from JEGS High Performance in Delaware, Ohio, on hand to cheer him down the strip, Coughlin didn’t disappoint, punctuating his top-level qualifying effort with a semifinal run in the special K&N Horsepower Challenge, a special race-within-a-race for the top eight Pro Stock qualifiers from the last 12 months.

“It’s pretty much a party atmosphere in the JEGS pit and we’re having a great time,” Coughlin said. “You always want to perform at your best when you have everyone from home with you. Overall, I can’t complain about a thing. We qualified great and we had a car fully capable of winning the K&N deal, the driver just came up a little short there. I’ll just have to make up for it tomorrow.”

Coughlin actually outran Greg Anderson in the second round of the K&N Horsepower Challenge, posting a 6.745 at 204.66 mph to Anderson’s slower 6.648 at 204.14 mph. But Anderson earned a slight headstart with a better reaction time and was able to hold off the hard-charging Coughlin to win by .01 seconds.

“Greg did a good job; I didn’t,” Coughlin said. “On one hand it’s exciting that we had a quicker car. On the other hand it’s disappointing that I didn’t drive well enough to take care of business. I just didn’t drop the clutch in time. Like I said, the only way I k now how to make up for it is to go out there and prove myself all over again tomorrow.”

As for losing half of the qualifying sessions to the unusual problems at the track, Coughlin was unfazed.

“We’re all professionals out here,” he said. “In times like this you rely on your years of experience and the data you’ve collected over time and do the best you can. We’re all in the same boat as far as runs down the track this year so we’re starting on a level playing field.

“If anything it helps the teams with multiple cars, like the one we have here at Victor Cagnazzi Racing, because we’ve got six runs worth of data between our three cars. Still, you have to go out there Sunday and race the guy in the other lane. That’s what it’s all about.”

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