Coughlin cut early, but earns spot in King Demon Crown Jeg Coughlin knew he'd have his hands full in the first round of professional eliminations at the 17th annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX. After qualifying in the...
Coughlin cut early, but earns spot in King Demon Crown
Jeg Coughlin knew he'd have his hands full in the first round of professional eliminations at the 17th annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX. After qualifying in the final spot in the 16-car field, Coughlin had to open race day against two-time reigning series champion Greg Anderson, who had set a Heartland Park Topeka record elapsed time in qualifying No. 1.
Despite the seemingly long odds against him, Coughlin, a veteran racer with 45 national event victories, coolly took his Jeg's Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T to the starting line with every intention of pulling a first-round upset.
When the lights flashed, that dream almost came true as Coughlin soared off the launch pad with a quick .032-second reaction time, well ahead of Anderson's .071-second start. The chase was on at that point and Anderson was able to slowly close the gap on Coughlin, finally passing him at the big end of the track and winning by six-thousandths of a second with a 6.759 at 203.31 mph to Coughlin's 6.804 at 202.91 mph.
"We thought we could pick it up quite a bit from qualifying and get to at least within two or three hundredths of a second of him," Coughlin said. 'If we had done that, we'd have a different result. But he still outran us by five hundredths so we ended up losing another squeaker. It's a major bummer for the whole team. We just didn't get it done.
"I'm a positive guy and I always try to find the bright side of things but this is very tough to swallow. It's our second first-round loss in a row and our fifth of the year. It's hard to contend for championships when you're not consistently going rounds every week. We'll continue to work and get ready for Chicago. We have a week off so that might help."
Coughlin did secure a place in the annual King Demon Crown race for the sixth time in his career. The special event for the top eight qualifiers from the previous 12 months will be contested during the qualifying rounds on the Chicago event, which runs from June 9-12 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., just south of Chicago.
"Things are set up perfectly for us to have a get-well weekend in Chicago," Coughlin said. "We need to make it happen."