DALLAS (Sept. 19) — Reigning POWERade champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. came into the 23rd annual Super Start Batteries NHRA Nationals at the Texas Motorplex looking for a jolt of momentum for his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt team. He didn’t waste any time delivering his own version of a super start, running a track record 6.631 at 207.56 mph to earn the provisional top qualifying position for team owner Victor Cagnazzi.

“We aim to be consistent and fast every pass and obviously we pulled that off today,” Coughlin said. “We’re thrilled. Our trend this year is that we tend to get better as the weekend goes along so to start No. 1 is just great.”

This weekend’s race is the second of six in the Countdown to 1, the playoff system that will decide the 2008 champion from a field of 10 eligible racers. Coughlin started the event 31 points off the lead, but could make up a portion of that deficit during time trials. Racers can earn from one to eight bonus points based their qualifying position.

“It’s on,” Coughlin said. “The battle has started. We’ve got five races left, including this weekend, and that’s a lot of racing. We want to be champions again so we’ve got to run like this from here on out. Everyone is putting their best foot forward, including us.”

The 38-year-old from Delaware, Ohio, was almost as pleased with his Round 2 pass of 6.634 at 206.95 mph, even though it was .003 seconds slower than his first. The pass was the second quickest of the second session, meaning Coughlin ran two of the top three elapsed times of the race so far.

“We discussed what we were looking for going into Q2 and we were thinking the track was capable of holding a low to mid-6.62 run, so I think we left just a tad on the track that time,” Coughlin said. “But that gives us something to work towards. As I said, we like to pick it up as the weekend goes along so maybe we have some room to do that.

“I want to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to General Motors. They’ve had a great 100-year run, especially in racing, so here’s to another 100 years of more success.”

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