DALLAS (Oct. 14) — Five-time Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his race crew are as excited as they've been since mid-May when they raced to the finals of the Menards Heartland Nationals. That's because prior to this weekend's 32nd annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, Coughlin's JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro was modified by car builder Rick Jones and the early results are very promising.
"If the corners are up on my mouth a bit it's certainly because we're as close to the front of the pack as we've been in quite a while," Coughlin said. "We've been in the top half of the field in all four sessions here and ended up qualified No. 9, which is pretty wild. We started off No. 5, got bumped to sixth, got bumped to eighth and ended up 9th. When you've got a tight field like we've got this weekend, that can certainly happen.
"Most importantly, we've been within a hundredth and a half to two hundredths (to the quickest car) every session except for the one round Bo (Butner) ran .58 so I feel like, quite honestly, we have our racecar back. We actually feel some real excitement heading into race day, even though we'll have a tough draw right out of the gate."
Coughlin's best pass of the four qualifying rounds at Texas Motorplex showed a 6.636 at 208.78 mph on the scoreboards. That's the exact same elapsed time as first-round opponent Drew Skillman, although Skillman's slightly faster top speed earns him lane choice. Skillman's official numbers are 6.636 at 209.04 mph.
"We had another .63 there in Q4 and the low car was .62 so as I've said, we are very close to the quickest cars," Coughlin said. "Being in the No. 9 spot, we don't have an easy draw there in the first round getting young Mr. Skillman and Round 2 will certainly be interesting as well. We'll have our work cut out for us all day I would imagine.
"We'll get a good night's rest, digest what the car did here in Q4. That was actually our best run to date, factoring in the conditions and what not, and looking at the computer with a quick glance I know we have some room to improve so we will massage that tune-up a little bit and try our best to win this darn thing."
So far, the weather has been typical to Texas with lots of sunshine and high temperatures. All that is fixing to change as an overnight front rolls through, bringing much cooler temperatures, which will equate to extra horsepower for the Pro Stock class.
"My understanding is that we are going to wake up with temperatures in the low to mid-50s and we're likely be racing in mid to upper-60s to low-70s all day tomorrow so the crew chiefs will earn their stripes," Coughlin said. "That's perfect Pro Stock weather so we will go out and look to let the clutch out a number of times and bring home a Wally."
Pro Stock eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry live elimination action from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)