Chevrolet''s Jeg Coughlin Jr. Drives Cobalt to Second Straight NHRA Pro Stock Pole Teammate Connolly Qualifies Chevrolet Second; Anderson's Pontiac Sets LVMS Speed Record LAS VEGAS, April 14, 2007 - Jeg Coughlin Jr. captured his second...
Chevrolet''s Jeg Coughlin Jr. Drives Cobalt to Second Straight NHRA Pro Stock Pole
Teammate Connolly Qualifies Chevrolet Second; Anderson's Pontiac Sets LVMS Speed Record
LAS VEGAS, April 14, 2007 - Jeg Coughlin Jr. captured his second straight No. 1 qualifying award by putting his Slammers Ultimate Milk Chevy Cobalt on the pole for Sunday's SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 36-year-old Ohio native posted a 6.733 e.t. at 204.26 mph on Friday night and held on through two additional sessions of time trials to earn his 10th career No. 1 qualifying award.
"We're definitely getting closer," said Coughlin. "We had a consistent racecar through all four qualifying sessions, and in today's last session we didn't quite run the number we were looking for, but we're certainly not frowning on our performance. I think Dave (Connolly) and I will have a great one-two punch for tomorrow. Greg (Anderson) threw out a heck of run in Q4 with the 6.737 which was close to the pole number that we ran with the 6.733. We'll have a great day tomorrow."
Even though the Chevy Cobalt driver is a three-time winner at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (winning the spring race in 2000-01 and the fall event in 2002), it was his first pole award at this venue. It was also the first time since 2000 that Coughlin's had multiple pole efforts in one season.
"We're waiting to see what Mother Nature deals us and we're watching the forecast to see how to set up our two Chevy Cobalts," said Coughlin. "It feels great starting from the pole and to have two in a row for the team is outstanding. There's been no stone unturned. Our chassis shop, which is in-house at Cagnazzi Racing, has been doing a fabulous job getting these Chevy Cobalts together. Our engine shop has been flawless as well. We're trying to run with KB Racing cars and we're sneaking up on them - they can feel it.
"Dave (Connolly) and I are going to go out and drive the best we can. Tommy Utt and Roy Simmons and Victor (Cagnazzi) are making great calls on the car. Hopefully we can get them through four rounds tomorrow."
Coughlin's Cagnazzi Racing teammate Dave Connolly parked his Chevy Cobalt in the No. 2 qualifying spot, matching the pole setter's e.t. but running a slower speed of 203.49 mph. Connolly was runner-up last year at this race to ACDelco Chevy driver Kurt Johnson and won this event in 2005. This weekend marked Connolly's best-qualifying effort of 2007.
"Even after Houston I thought we had our stuff together and that we could come out here and make a good showing," said Connolly. "So far we hit the track running pretty good from the get-go. Our Chevy Cobalt has been the second quickest car in every session except for the first one. The confidence level going into Sunday is definitely pretty good. But these guys are tough out here, and the ladder looks difficult, but as far as the whole Torco/Slammers team, it's been our best weekend this year. Victor's always dreamed of having his cars one-two, so for him and all of the Chevrolet fans, this has been a good day.
"We're pretty to close to the pole, but for our two Cobalts to run identical 6.733s is pretty remarkable and says a lot about the consistency we have with this program. A couple of mile-per-hour can get you, but that's the world of Pro Stock right now. As long as the No. 1 spot stays under the yellow and black tent, that's all that matters."
Greg Anderson qualified for his 98th straight national event, and has the quickest Pontiac GTO in the 16-car field. Anderson shut off the timers with a 6.737 e.t. (the quickest run of the day), at a track-record speed of 205.26 mph during the final session of the weekend to put his Summit Racing Pontiac into the No. 3 position.
"We finally got the Summit Racing Pontiac just about right," said Anderson. "We missed badly on the first three sessions. We struggled with the tune-up with the car and the clutch and we made some wholesale changes on that last run. It looks like we hit a pretty close. That should give us a decent run to tune from. The weather's probably going to change on us tomorrow so we'll have to use our heads to make sure we get the car back in the ball park. At least we proved we could do it once anyway. You have to execute but at least it shows we can.
"I think we have a pretty good racecar for tomorrow, especially after that last run. We rectified some problems and honed in on what the car wants. We were did a lot of searching before that and it looks like we have it figured out. As long as we can keep a grip on that and not lose it, I think we'll be in good shape."
Warren Johnson is qualified seventh in the GM Performance Parts Pontiac with a 6.756 e.t. at 203.28 mph. The six-time NHRA Pro Stock champion has been runner-up at Las Vegas Motor Speedway twice.
"We were fairly confident looking at the weather that our 6.75 would keep us in the show and probably in the top half, so we tried a different engine in our GM Performance Parts GTO today that we hadn't had a chance to use in national event competition before.
"We wanted to establish a baseline with it insofar as the tune-up in case we had an issue with our primary motor and had to press it into service. In the first run this morning we had a vacuum leak, which we repaired, and then put a comfortable air-fuel tune-up in it for the afternoon session.
"We know we have some work to do on it, but we're confident that once we dial in the tune-up it will run as well if not better that the engine we have been running. We'll stick that engine back in for tomorrow and go from there. As far as the car is concerned, it made four essentially flawless runs, so we have to start working the tune-up around it, improve our transfer times early on in the run, and we'll be right where we need to be."
Jim Yates rounds out the top half of the field in a Pontiac with 6.762 e.t at 203.49 mph. It was Yates best qualifying position this season and his best effort qualifying seventh at last fall's Dallas contest.
"It's nice to get four qualifying sessions, in similar conditions on a good racetrack like this," said Yates. "They do an excellent job here at The Strip keeping the track consistent and this weekend has been awesome for us because we've been able to tune on the car on every run. We've had this new engine combination since Gainesville and it showed a lot of promise in Houston in the two qualifying sessions - we just ran out of time to move up to the top half. This weekend we were able to stay in the hunt, in the top eight cars every session, and it made us feel good. We kept changing little things on the car and kept stepping up. I think this WileyX Pontiac has a little left in it. Maybe it's a four to six car right now and we need to win us some rounds tomorrow. The way the field looks right now after that last qualifying session, there's about 15 of the 16 cars running within about a hundredth of a second of each other. It will be the driver's job to make it happen and if the crew gives me a good car, we'll be great."
Pontiac's Jason Line broke into the 16-car field during today's morning qualifying session. The defending NHRA POWERade champion posted a 6.767 e.t. at 203.49 mph in his Summit Racing GTO to qualify for his 78th consecutive national event.
Greg Stanfield is qualified 11th in a Pontiac GTO and Mike Edwards is qualified 13th in a Pontiac GTO. Kurt Johnson is qualified 12th in a Chevy Cobalt and Kenny Koretsky is qualified 14th in a Chevy Cobalt.
"We had a couple of unusual gremlins hurt us on Friday, but were able to bounce back today and get ourselves in the show," said Johnson. "Our ACDelco Chevy Cobalt did everything it was supposed to do, making two solid, repeatable 6.77-second runs.
"We still have room to improve, because it's not running the back half of the racetrack as well as it should, so we'll have to work on that for tomorrow. We're good on the starting line and in the first sixty feet, but we just have to pick it up in the last eighth mile. We'll take a look at all our information and figure out what we need to do. We're qualified twelfth, and the odds makers put us at 12-1 to win tomorrow, so maybe there's something lucky in the 12s this weekend."
In Funny Car, a pair of Chevy Impalas are qualified in the 16-car field with Del Worsham leading the way in the No. 10 spot with a 4.803 e.t. at 322.11 mph and Tommy Johnson Jr. is qualified in the No. 15 spot in the Skoal Racing Chevy Impala with a 4.822-second run at 323.97 mph. Tony Pedregon has the quickest Chevrolet in the field and is No. 5 with a 4.763 e.t. at 328.70 mph.
"We kind of figured that last session was going to be a real madhouse, with guys jumping in and bumping out," Worsham said. "We figured we were safe for the field, and our goal was just to put another full lap on the board. We wanted to make sure the motor was happy, and we absolutely did not want to go into Sunday after a tire-smoker. We met those goals, and we knew the car was so safely tuned it could easily go quicker than that, so I feel pretty good about it. Now, of course, the weather is the thing we can't control, and it looks like we're in for something completely different tomorrow. We'll just come out and try to go A to B, and hope we have enough to go some rounds."
-credit: gm racing