The end result was clear, Coughlin’s Chevrolet Cobalt remains very quick and his best pass of 6.579 seconds at 209.92 mph earned him his 15th top-half starting slot of the season’s first 15 races.
“We got the car to go a lot straighter today and that showed on the scoreboard,” the 39-year-old five-time world champion said. “About the only thing left to do is get a little more efficient in low gear. If we can do that, we’ll pick up another two hundredths of a second or so. That’s big because the top car here is only .008 seconds ahead of us right now.
“Pro Stock racing is all about incremental improvements. We’re literally looking for thousandths of a second at a time. That’s what keeps things interesting and challenging. Fortunately, this team has become very adept at squeezing every single drop of horsepower out of our engines. I know that if I just do my job in the driver’s seat, we can win any race.”
Coughlin has led the point standings for the past 10 national events and his five national event victories this year are the best in any professional category. He also won the K&N Horsepower Challenge this season, making him the most decorated driver on the ’09 tour.
Sunday’s opening round of eliminations pits No. 6 qualifier Coughlin against No. 11 qualifier Greg Stanfield, against whom he holds a 2-0 record this season. Stanfield’s best pass in his Pontiac GXP was a 6.614 at 209.30 mph.
“Greg is always a tough draw because he’s one heck of a racecar driver,” Coughlin said. “Everyone that qualifies for these races at this level is good and we’ll need to be up on the wheel and ready for all of them. But, I do like our chances.”
Eliminations’ begin at 11 a.m. with Pro Stock slated for a noon start.