POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 7) — Like the rest of NHRA’s top pros, back-to-back series champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. suffered through two and a half days of sitting around and watching it rain before finally getting his chance at Auto Club Raceway. That’s when the 54-time national event winner coolly posted a 6.629 at 208.23 mph to qualify in the top half of the NHRA Winternationals’ field in the No. 6 position.

Relentless rain shortened qualifying for the season-opening race to just one session. The draw had Coughlin in the right-hand lane, which most drivers consider to be less than desirable. Nevertheless, he took his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt through a great pass and will open eliminations against fellow Ohioan Larry Morgan, who went 6.662 at 207.69 mph.

“We were second-quickest in that right lane and you have to be happy with that,” Coughlin said. “We actually had the car setup to just casually get down the track but it turned out to be very aggressive. I know that every little suspect spot on that green racing surface put me into tire spin. The car was trying to come around me the whole way down.

“I feel for the fans that have stuck it out here in Pomona for the last three days. We can’t do much about the rain and we were all anxious to get out there and race and put on a show. At least we got a session in and now we’ll go into race day and try to win this deal.

“Larry’s going to be a tough customer in the first round. He lost his mom earlier this week so our hearts go out to him and his family. I’m sure he’s got a lot of emotions right now.”

Having lost three rounds to rain, Coughlin is happy he tested a few days ago in Las Vegas, where he raced to the final round of the preseason Pro Stock Showdown.

“Only having one run here is probably throwing a curve ball at some of these teams out here that didn’t get to test very much,” Coughlin said. “It’s not a concern for our group. There’s a lot of experience in this pit and it might just make us stronger as the day goes along tomorrow.

“I firmly believe we’re better than sixth-best at this race. We’ll see how it turns out Sunday.”

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