TOPEKA, Kan. (May 19) — Multi-time world champion and past Topeka winner Jeg Coughlin Jr. guided his Dodge Avenger to his second-best qualifying effort of the 2012 season Saturday at Heartland Park Topeka, earning the No. 11 starting spot in the 24th annual Dollar General NHRA Summernationals with a 6.661 at 206.70 mph.

It was a nice step forward for the new team, which came together just seven races ago. So far this year, Coughlin has a best finish of second place at the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. Overall, he is 4-5 on race day.

“We came out swinging much harder than we have in previous races,” Coughlin said. “We were a little sluggish early but our back-half numbers and our speed looked pretty decent. In Q2 last night, we picked up a little bit on our program and that’s what initially got us into the field. In Q3, we picked up our ET and moved up to 11th, even though our back half numbers slipped a little.

“But we’re in the game, and have some depth in our program. I feel confident behind the wheel of the car. The car has been driving really well, and I feel great behind the wheel. All of it gives us the bottom line of being able to have a great day.”

Coughlin won this event in 2000, a victory that helped catapult him to his first of four Pro Stock titles. To win Sunday, he’ll have to first get past Round 1 opponent V. Gaines, who qualified sixth with a 6.645 at 207.21 mph.

“We’ve got some consistency and momentum on our side,” Coughlin said. “We made four decent passes in qualifying. Our competitors see that and know that we’re going to hit the nail on the head sooner or later. They are just hoping they aren’t next to me when it happens. Maybe we’ll earn a little luck with that.

“I don’t think we’re earned much in 2012, but the name of the game is go up there and give it all you’ve got. Behind the wheel, I need to be steady, consistent and aggressive to pull off some round wins. We need round wins right now to build up the points and solidify a spot in the Countdown.”

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. with the two nitro classes. Pro Stock should hit the track for Round 1 around noon. CDT.


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