CHICAGO (June 6) — Reigning POWERade Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. is off to a solid title defense at this weekend’s Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill. Coughlin’s Chevrolet Cobalt was the second quickest car in both of Friday’s qualifying sessions, putting him in prime position for a big run at another Chi-town win.

“We are very excited over her in the pit,” Coughlin said. “You’d have to rewind quite a few races to find a Friday where we ran so well in both sessions. The guys are really pumped up, as you might expect. It’s always good to see a bunch of hard work pay off like this. I could feel the improvements from behind the wheel.”

Coughlin’s run of record at the moment is the 6.726 at 205.10 mph he posted in the evening round. The pass was a crowd pleaser as both he and opponent Greg Anderson carded identical elapsed times and top speeds.

“We were separated by .0000 at the finish line,” Coughlin said. “You don’t see that very often. That was a lot of fun, especially since the timing system said I was the winner. It’s a great to run with those guys because that KB Racing team is first-rate. But we’re not doing too bad over here either.

“It was a pretty muggy day but there was enough cloud cover to run well. I have to commend the staff here and the NHRA track prep guys because the surface was great. The whole facility is in tip-top shape. It’s supposed to be a little cooler tomorrow so maybe we’ll get a chance to improve again.”

In between Saturday’s two sessions, scheduled to begin at noon and 3 p.m., Coughlin plans on assuming the role of spectator for the 24th annual JEGS Allstars, a special race-within-a-race that pits the top 64 Sportsman racers from across the country in both team and individual competition.

“It’s my favorite day of the year — JEGS Allstars day,” said Coughlin, a 52-time national event winner. “I remember watching the Allstars as a kid hanging on the fence at Bowling Green, Ky., then later competing in the event myself, and now I’m back to watching it from the stands and I love it. You’re talking about the best of the best from across the country. It’s really great racing.”

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