ST. LOUIS (Sept. 30) – After a night pouring over data, Jeg Coughlin Jr. thought he had the right equation for an upset victory by the JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger in the first round of Sunday's AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park. In the end, he didn't quite have enough as the five-time world champion fell to Jason Line.
"We tried our best, and I really thought performance would pick up," Coughlin said. "In the end, the pickup we thought we'd get didn’t live up to expectations."
Coughlin, Pro Stock's No. 16 qualifier, had a tall task in the first round against No. 1 qualifier Line.
Always an ace at the starting line, Coughlin didn't disappoint with a .004-second reaction time to Line's .024-second start. But Line's car made up the difference quickly and cruised to a winning time of 6.514 seconds at 212.13 mph. Coughlin came across in 6.587 seconds at 210.70 mph.
"We found a physical problem with the motor last night," Coughlin said. "We wound up disassembling it quite a bit to get it fixed. We really felt like it would pick back up toward the field, running like a 6.54 or 6.55 today.
"In hindsight, even that wouldn't have been enough against Jason, but it would have given us a lot more confidence about our approach and program."
Undaunted, the JEGS team is turning its attention to next week's race in Maple Grove and beyond.
"We've got some work to do and four days before we let the clutch out in Reading, Pa.," he said. "That's going to be a unique experience. Reading in the fall can be fast, but it's also a tricky track.
"We've got three races to go this season and still a lot to learn before we shift our attention to 2013. Our mindset is to keep working toward getting this car performing up to everyone's capability."
Next week's Auto Plus NHRA Nationals runs from Friday to Sunday at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.