READING, Pa. (Aug. 15) — Reigning POWERade Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. posted a 6.660 at 206.51 mph Friday evening in his Chevrolet Cobalt to earn the No. 9 position in the provisional field of the 24th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

The pass was an improvement from Coughlin’s opening run of 6.669 at 206.67 mph, which had slotted him third, but a little tire shake at the hit of the throttle in the cooler and better second session robbed him of a better elapsed time.

“We started strong and were No. 3 on the qualifying sheets,” Coughlin said. “And we were excited because we felt like that run had plenty of room for improvement. We came back in the evening and probably went a little over center with the tune-up and just didn’t turn in the pass we were hoping for.

“Dropping from third to ninth was a bit of a disappointment but the good news is we have two sessions tomorrow where we can improve and that’s exactly what we plan on doing. At least we know our limits with this track.”

This weekend’s event marks the second to last race before the NHRA playoffs begin. Coughlin already qualified for the Countdown to 1 but would love to improve his slotting if at all possible. Currently, he’s fourth overall.

The top-10 racers at the conclusion of the 54th annual U.S. Nationals in two weeks will be eligible for this year’s championship. The rankings will be reset at that time with each of the eligible drivers separated by 10 points each, except for the No. 1 qualifier, who will receive a 20-point bonus.

“We all saw last year how every point meant so much so if we can make up even one more spot before the playoffs begin, it will be fantastic,” said Coughlin, the 1999 champion of the Reading event. “Our car’s running great right now. We just need to clean it up a little tomorrow and we’ll be ready for race day.

“This is the exciting time of the year for all of us and the guys are really feeling it. Everyone is getting pumped up and we’re ready to get after it once the playoffs start. But right now we need to focus on achieving the best starting position we can earn, and that quest will start Sunday right here at Maple Grove Raceway.”

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