COMMERCE, Ga. (May 5) – Jeg Coughlin Jr. and the Dodge Avenger team are pleased with the progress made at this weekend’s NHRA drag race at Atlanta Dragway.

The four-time Pro Stock champion made it in the Atlanta field in the No. 15 slot after a best run of 6.695 seconds at 207.62 mph. The two-time Atlanta winner will now face No. 2 qualifier Allen Johnson in Sunday’s first round of eliminations. Johnson’s best lap was 6.613 seconds at 209.23 mph.

“We qualified for the show, which is always the first goal,” Coughlin said. “We’re still not where we want to be, but we are making progress. We have to remember that we’re a brand-new team and that things take time. It’s tough, because we’re happiest when we’re at the top of the sheets, but we’re finding our way along.”

Coughlin’s return to Pro Stock after a year’s absence has been difficult at times, despite his continued prowess on the Christmas Tree. Making his return tougher is the fact that the competition in Pro Stock is at an all-time high.

“As we look at the performance of our car through the different levels, compared with everyone else in the pack, it doesn’t seem like we’re running the times we should for our speeds,” Coughlin said. “So, we are working really hard to make our 60-foot times better, to get the car to be just a little bit more efficient down low.

“That has been out struggle here for a good part of the season. I’m not saying our horsepower can take us to the top of the pack, because it certainly cannot at this point, but I feel we should, at the very least, be running well into the mid-6.60s with a lot of the other good cars out here.”

Coughlin won this race in 2010 and 2000. He’ll begin his quest for a third Atlanta title against good friend Johnson, who he’ll be racing for the first time this season.

“We are in the field and we have a good competitor in the first round in Allen Johnson – a fellow Dodge driver,” Coughlin said. “Obviously he has been running extremely well the last year or two. We are going to have to get some more efficiency out of this car to have a chance. I honestly believe we can pick up three to four hundredths without a whole lot of problem.

“The hard part is that we haven’t done that yet. We really felt like we could this morning, and it didn’t pan out. We weren’t trying to swing for the fences in the heat, but just make a small step to try and improve what we did to the rest of the pack. But, gameday is a whole new deal, so we are looking forward to that.”

Coughlin continues to race his HEMI-powered Drag Pak Dodge Challenger in the Stock class, advancing to the third round Saturday.

“We built the car a couple of years ago to compete occasionally and it was really a pain in the rear at first, much like this new one I got,” Coughlin said. “It just wasn’t real consistent. So, over the winter we decided to work on the car pretty thoroughly, suspension-wise, and the car has been unbelievable ever since.

“It has been a lot of fun to drive. Fans love it and anyone who knows me knows I love it and I love bracket racing on top of that. So, this is right down my alley.”

Pro Stock eliminations will begin around noon. ESPN2 is carrying all the action with same-day coverage.


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