BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 15) — Jeg Coughlin Jr. let everyone on his race team know he wanted to go into the Countdown to the Championship with as much momentum as possible. After adding another win to his 2010 total Sunday at the 29th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, Coughlin has gotten his wish and will now enter the playoffs as the hottest driver in his class.

“We came here off a great Western Swing where we won in Sonoma and followed that up with a strong runner-up finish in Denver,” Coughlin said. “We were sky high and certainly thought we’d have more success with a brand new engine from the shop. But after struggling a bit in qualifying and then analyzing all the data, we decided to go back to the motor we had in Sonoma and, boom, that thing took us right to the top.

“We’re now the closest we’ve been to the points leader all year. That’s the way the Countdown goes. It’s worked in our favor before and last year it worked against us. This year we probably wouldn’t have had a chance to run for our sixth overall world title but now we will so that’s really exciting.”

The No. 12 qualifier, Coughlin upset Ron Krisher in the first round with the second quickest speed of the session and never looked back, posting big wins over Minnesotan teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson, and Shane Gray in the final for his 52 national event win at the professional level. He’s now tied with Top Fuel legend Joe Amato in eighth place on the all-time wins list.

“I feel a bit fortunate because we barely made it up there for the finals,” Coughlin said. “I heard something odd with the motor in the semis and that engine is probably our best Jose so we didn’t want to damage it. The guys thrashed and put our No. 3 motor in there for the final and we used up every bit of that 75 minutes between rounds to get up there and race Shane.”

Slightly rattled by the rush, Coughlin caught a bit of a break when Gray jumped the green light by -.001 seconds. It may not have mattered any way as he went on to post a 6.614 at 208.04 mph to Gray’s 6.654 at 207.21 mph, but it could have been close.

“I do want to say that the Grays have done a phenomenal job this year and if Shane had been a couple thousands on the green side of the tree he would have put away my yellow and black car because I was dead late,” Coughlin said of his .059-second reaction time. “Those are good guys over there and they’ll win plenty of races, I’m sure.”

For now the focus turns to the 56th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, which take place Sept. 2-6 in Indianapolis.


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