CHICAGO (June 5) — After making some fairly big changes to their Chevrolet Cobalt Pro Stocker prior to this weekend’s 13th annual United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals, five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his Victor Cagnazzi Racing teammates arrived at Route 66 Raceway with a slight sense of uneasiness.

That anxiousness lasted exactly 6.638 seconds, the amount of time Coughlin needed to cover the quarter mile and secure the No. 2 starting position for Sunday’s eliminations.

“It was a bit of a nervous time for us because we wanted to try some things before this race but the test session we had planned at Norwalk (Ohio) got rained out,” said Coughlin, the defending race champion. “Then we get here and lose the first qualifying round to rain. We weren’t entirely sure how the changes we made were going to turn out.

“We changed some parts before this race in an effort to limit the areas where we may have been falling off. Fortunately, the car went straight down the track last night, like it was on a string, and it went pretty darn straight again in the both rounds today so although we made a major change and had no way to test it before the race started, we held our own. We couldn’t be happier.”

Route 66 always has been a great racetrack for Coughlin. Aside from last year’s win over Mike Edwards, he collected the trophy here in 2007, 2003, and 2002.

“It’s always nice to come to a place where you’ve won before,” Coughlin said. “You have good memories going through your head so you tend to feel really comfortable.

“In one run yesterday we erased any questions we may have had and I can tell you we were all smiling about that 6.679 under the lights. The data we gained there allowed us to tune it up for today’s 6.63. Then we came back and basically repeated in the final session, although it was a bit warmer. The car’s really consistent and that’s always good.

“One of our primary goals to is keep the car in the top three or four of every session, whether it’s qualifying or eliminations. We were second quickest in both of the first two sessions we ran and third quickest in Q4 so we’re settling to a nice, tight range.”

Coughlin will open eliminations against veteran Vieri Gaines, who qualified 15th with a 6.683 at 206.35 mph in his Dodge. The two raced in the second round at Atlanta with Coughlin taking the win.

Weather permitting, Pro Stock eliminations will begin at noon CDT.


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