BRISTOL, Tenn. (May 16) — Jeg Coughlin Jr. is off to an unusual start at Bristol Dragway. The defending series and event champion opened with a mid-pack 6.765 at 203.71 mph to place his Chevrolet Cobalt 10th out of 27 racers on the ladder. But in the cooler and quicker evening round, Team JEGS encountered a malfunction, which left Coughlin silent just a few feet off the starting line.

“The guys from the engine shop (in Mooresville, N.C.) had a new motor they were just pumped about and we got it in the middle of the day today,” Coughlin said. “It was a scramble to get it in the car in time for Q2 but we got it done. Unfortunately, when I dropped the clutch something happened and I was done.

“We’ll have to figure out what went wrong and fix the problem. I have no idea, without looking at the data, how to even make an educated guess. The good news is we have two more sessions tomorrow to improve and the weather should be good enough to make a pair of strong runs.”

The entire eighth annual O’Reilly Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals has been run under unusually chilly temperatures, which suits the naturally-aspirated Pro Stock set just fine.

“We can’t manufacture atmosphere like the nitro cars do with their superchargers so we really like it when you get conditions like this,” said Coughlin, a 52-time national event winner who won this event in 2007 out of the No. 1 qualifying position. “The motors are generally really happy and when we get this new one to cooperate, we should be in good shape.”

Coughlin will have two chances to improve on his current 16th place ranking at 12:30 and 3 p.m. Saturday.

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