After beating Larry Morgan with a weekend-best pass of 6.595 at 210.41 mph, Coughlin knew he had the horsepower to give Line a good race. A good reaction time would also help his cause. It was time to race.
When the lights flashed, Coughlin left with a .024-second reaction time to Line’s .049-second launch. For a fleeting moment, he had a huge advantage. But as quickly as he left the launch pad, Coughlin’s JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt got way out of shape, swerving to the right, then the left, before snapping back over the right again.
“That wasn’t one of our finer runs,” Coughlin said. “At low speed, that’s about as crazy a ride as I’ve ever had. It wasn’t scary, per se, because it all happened in a second or less, but man that got my attention.
‘It got loose right away and started paddling the tires. That pushed me over to the right and I corrected back but it went too far. I knew it was over there so I pushed in the clutch to calm it down. The final snap to the right was just the car settling back.
“There’s not much I’d change. We knew Jason was running well and we had an aggressive tune-up in there. We just pushed it a touch too far. If we’d have gotten through the first few gears it would have been a high 6.50 and we could have won the race. Instead, we’ll pack it up and head down south to Sonoma (Calif.) and do it all again next weekend.”
The 22nd annual Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals begin Friday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.