CHARLOTTE (April 20) — Reigning Pro Mod champion Troy Coughlin used his best pass of the weekend Saturday afternoon to beat Chip King and advance to the quarterfinals of the Dollar General NHRA Nationals at zMax Dragway.
After qualifying No. 5 with a 5.963-second pass at 243.72 mph — the quickest run of Day 1 action — Coughlin and his JEGS.com crew managed to lower their elapsed time to 5.909 at 248.52 mph in dismissing King. The No. 12 qualifier, King also ran his best pass of the weekend against Coughlin, but his 6.015 at 249.81 mph was well off the pace. Adding to the punishment was Coughlin's .031-second reaction time advantage.
"That was a big race to win because Chip came in here No. 2 in the points, so he was a guy we need to keep in our sights," Coughlin said, "especially after our slow start in Gainesville. I think we've got the car in a lot better shape. We've still got a few little glitches in the electronics but it's manageable now."
Coughlin credited Saturday's cooler temperatures and clear skies for the uptick in the performance of his twin-turbo entry.
"We did get a session in before the rain yesterday, which was good, but the water grains in the air were high so the acceleration of the motor was slower," Coughlin said. "It was still nice to be No. 1 of that first session though. That got us smiling.
"Probably got a little too aggressive in the last qualifying round this morning so we backed it down a touch for the first round and the car responded really well. I'm not sure what happened to Chip but we beat him by a pretty good bit so I assume they had some issues. He's always a tough draw."
Things don't get any easier for Coughlin when eliminations resume Sunday afternoon. His second-round opponent is Mike Castellana, who beat Kevin McCurdy in the opening session with a 5.945 at 243.06 mph. Because Coughlin posted a quicker number against King, he'll have the advantage of lane choice over Castellana.
"We beat Mike for the championship by three points in the last race of the season last year so I'm sure he's ready to knock us down," Coughlin said. "He can certainly run some big numbers. That car can absolutely set the world on fire on any given run, so we'll have to be ready for him."
Eliminations resume at 1:30 p.m.