READING, Pa. (Aug. 16) — Reigning POWERade Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. used Saturday’s final two rounds of professional qualifying to lower his best elapsed time to 6.652 at 207.72 mph, placing him 11th in the elimination field of the 24th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

Just as it’s been for most of the summer, Coughlin’s Chevrolet Cobalt was extremely consistent through qualifying, posting a trio of 6.66-second runs to go with his run of record.

“We picked up where we left off Friday and had two great runs today,” Coughlin said. “We felt we had a chance to improve in Round 3 this morning and we did, jumping up to eighth place. We came back in Q4 and fully expected a 6.63 or 6.64 to go up on the scoreboards but the JEGS Cobalt spun the tires just a little bit down low and that’s all it takes these days to move from a 6.63 to a 6.66.

“Even though we fell back to 11th I’m really, really pleased with today’s progress. The car is very drivable and there is room for us to improve a touch Sunday morning. We did slip a new motor between the rails today and it was very happy by Q4.”

Coughlin will open his quest for a second Reading trophy against Vieri Gaines, who qualified sixth with a 6.642 at 207.78 mph. Coughlin and Gaines have split their previous two meetings this year.

“It’s been proven time and again that anyone in the field can win the race on Sunday,” Coughlin said. “V. is always a tough guy to race and he has a great car. But we’re pretty good too so we’ll get after it and see what happens.

“We’d love to get another win before the playoffs start. This is an important race for us because it’s close enough to home and it’s a track we’re very familiar with. We’ve raced a lot of different times here in a lot of different cars.”

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday. Pro Stock will begin around noon.

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