ATLANTA (May 11) – Another Pro Stock race, another strong showing for JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger driver Jeg Coughlin Jr.
Coughlin raced to his fifth semifinal appearance in seven Pro Stock races this season before falling to Shane Gray Saturday in the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
"We're making progress," said Coughlin, who moved from third to second in the points standings. "Our goal was to come in and try not to shoot ourselves in the foot. The car performed well each and every round."
Coughlin qualified No. 2 and beat Larry Morgan in the first round before knocking out Jason Line on a holeshot in the second round. But then Gray turned the tables on Coughlin with a .002-second reaction time to end Coughlin's day.
"That's the way it is," Coughlin said. "Pro Stock's so close that you really have to be on your best behavior at all times. The race with me and Jason was the same deal (as the race with Gray). He's .025 to the Tree – and late. I was .032 and late against Shane in the semis."
Coughlin started the day with a pass of 6.615 seconds at 209.04 mph that was the second-quickest of the round to beat Morgan, who ran 6.693 seconds at 207.50 mph.
In the second round, Coughlin turned the .012-second starting-line advantage – he had a .013 light – to put Line on the trailer. Line's pass was 6.619 seconds at 209.39 mph, but Coughlin's pass of 6.624 at 208.75 mph was good enough to advance.
"The second round, it shook a little bit in the middle of second gear," Coughlin said. "They made a little bit of an adjustment for the semifinals, and it picked the car up. We were real happy with that."
Coughlin then matched points leader Mike Edwards for the quickest pass of the semifinals – 6.607 seconds at 209.49 mph – but lost to Gray's run of 6.620 seconds at 208.75 mph. Coughlin's reaction time was good, .030, but Gray prevailed.
"My goal was to be .015 (on the Christmas Tree) and run a .60 or .61," Coughlin said. "I felt like that would get it done. I was .032 and he was .002, and we're going home."
Still, Coughlin remains optimistic about his performance so far in 2013. He's won at least one round in six races and advanced to two finals. Plus, he's qualified sixth or better in every race, including a No. 1 qualifier at Houston.
"That's the way it goes," Coughlin said. "I'll take this car and this team any day. We'll put it back in line, keep our chins up and keep grunting it out."