Coughlin beat Steve Spiess and Rodger Brogdon before falling to Johnny Gray in the third round when his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt went sideways just off the launch pad, forcing him shut his car off to prevent an accident.
“It’s disappointing to beat yourself, which is how this feels,” Coughlin said. “Take nothing away from Johnny Gray. He won the round and I congratulate him, but I sure wish we could have made it down the track and given ourselves a chance.
“We fought hard all day and it was a real battle. In Round 1 we were given some bad fuel and the car almost didn’t run at all. All we changed for Round 2 was the fuel and we picked up considerably so I’m not sure what the deal was with the fuel supply. I guess we should be happy we made it as far as we did.”
Coughlin’s quarterfinal victory against Brogdon, who rents a Victor Cagnazzi Racing engine and car, was one of the closest races of the season with the final margin of victory just seven-10-thousandths of a second. Brogdon earned a slight .033- to .049-second headstart but was run down and caught inches before the finish line with Coughlin’s 6.676 at 207.40 mph just enough to get the win over Brogdon’s 6.692 at 206.83 mph.
The opening round wasn’t quite as dramatic with Coughlin beating Spiess from end to end, posting a 6.681 at 206.76 mph to Spiess’ 6.705 at 206.13 mph.
“We’ll move onto Memphis and get after it again Friday,” Coughlin said. “There’s six races in the Countdown to 1 and the first four are all in a row so you don’t have much time to think about things, you just press forward.
“Mike (Edwards) was the only guy ahead of us in the points and he lost in the semis also so no harm, no foul there. We’ve got a good racecar and we’ll just go hard in Memphis, a track that’s been very good to us in the past.”