PHOENIX (Feb. 24) — Reigning NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion drew within four
points of the No. 1 ranking in the world with a strong semifinal showing Sunday
at the 24th annual CSK Nationals. Coughlin beat sophomore racer Justin Humphreys
and six-time world champ Warren Johnson before losing to veteran V. Gaines by
just one-thousandth of a second.

Coughlin actually had the better racecar against Gaines, running a 6.654 at
207.59 mph to Gaines’ 6.676 at 205.66, but a quick .007-second start by Gaines
against Coughlin’s respectable but slower .030-second launch made for a
.0013-second difference at the other end.

“V.’s been racing lights-out today and he got me at the Tree,” Coughlin said.
“We had the better car, as the numbers bear out, but we ran out of racetrack. V.
did a helluva job and I congratulate him. You hate to lose races like that but
it does happen from time to time. We just need make sure those losses are the
exception rather than the rule.”

Race day started great for Coughlin as the four-time series titlist recorded a
perfect .000-second reaction time in an easy 6.637-second win against Humphreys.
It was the second quickest pass of the opening round. In the quarterfinals,
Coughlin tamed the hotter racetrack and posted the best elapsed time of the
session, a 6.653 at 207.40 mph, to get his Chevrolet Cobalt into the

“The car really responded well today and Roy Simmons and the guys did a great
job making the necessary adjustments,” Coughlin said. “We’re off to a terrific
start to the season and I’m very pleased with everything at the moment. The
exciting thing is we’ve got room to get better so we should be able to keep this
run going. That’s the plan.”

When combined with his runner-up finish at the season-opener in California two
weeks ago, this semifinal ending at Firebird International Raceway gives
Coughlin 171 points, placing him just four behind Greg Anderson.

Coughlin and his Victor Cagnazzi Racing teammates have a few weekends off before
the next event, the 39th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, which takes place
March 13-16 at Gainesville Raceway in central Florida.

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