CHICAGO (June 6) — A weekend stretched to its limits by countless rain delays ended in for defending race champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. when the 64-time national event winner couldn’t get his car to cooperate during his first-round staging procedure.

In one of the most bizarre race starts of the season, Coughlin executed an odd and very short burnout, backed up, tried another, and then listened to the powerplant of his Chevrolet Cobalt fall completely silent as opponent Vieri Gaines and crew watched in disbelief from the other lane. A mad, last-second thrash didn’t help and Gaines was given a free pass against the second quickest racecar on the property.

“We had an electrical system malfunction there,” a puzzled and dejected Coughlin said. “It appears the combination of starting a burnout, stopping it, backing up, then restarting the car, redoing another burnout, and backing up again just wore the system out. It must have had a short of some sort, which, I’ve got to say, is another first in my career.
“We’ll get to the root of it, make our systems stronger, and keep our car running well.”

Entering this event, Coughlin had fought through to the final round in three of the last five races, taking two wins and putting himself squarely in the championship hunt. He says this setback won’t take long to overcome, especially with the breakneck pace of the upcoming schedule.
“Fortunately, we do have four races in a row here so we can rebound quick,” the fine-time world champion said. “We were looking to get some momentum going here in the first race and we were so pumped up after qualifying so well, but it came apart a touch today.

“We’re just going to have to turn our attention to the second race. I love Englishtown. It’s one of my favorite places to stop on the tour, and we’ll be there in a few days. I’m already looking forward to getting back in the car.”

Professional qualifying for the 41st annual United Association NHRA SuperNationals begin at 3 and 6 p.m. EDT Friday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.


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