Qualifying hiccup comes back to haunt Coughlin Jeg Coughlin's weekend in Brainerd, Minn., started off on a high note when the three-time NHRA champion qualified No. 2 in the provisional field of the 24th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. The ...
Qualifying hiccup comes back to haunt Coughlin
Jeg Coughlin's weekend in Brainerd, Minn., started off on a high note when the three-time NHRA champion qualified No. 2 in the provisional field of the 24th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. The problems started Saturday when time trails continued and Coughlin slipped to ninth place overall, just below the magic line that separates the top half of the field from the bottom half. The difference is huge for one reason - the drivers in the top half of the field get to pick which lane they will race down in Round 1.
"Historically, the right lane is always just a touch slower then the left," Coughlin said. "But it didn't appear to be enough this weekend to give anyone a decided advantage. But after those two big oildowns during the fuel session, with both of them in that lane, Bob [Glidden, crew chief] came back and told me we had to be even more ginger with it then normal. We tried to sneak one out but it just didn't happen."
Coughlin's first-round loss to Ron Krisher was almost as close as the lane choice decision between the two, who both qualified with a 6.735-second pass. That one came down to mile-per-hour. Today's race came down to just two hundredths of a second as Krisher had to catch and pass the fast-leaving Coughlin to win with a 6.731 to Coughlin's 6.784 after Coughlin's large .027- to .053-second starting line advantage.
"Only one car won in that right lane and that was on a big holeshot," Coughlin said. "I wouldn't have minded being another one but we just didn't do a good enough job. One of our big goals coming in was qualifying in the top half of the field so we'd be assured of lane choice. We missed it by the smallest margin possible when we stumbled a bit in yesterday's two sessions. That came back to get us, I'm afraid. We tried our best but we couldn't get away with it today."
Up next for Coughlin and crew is next weekend's 18th annual O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park. Coughlin is a two-time winner there, having claimed race titles in his championship seasons of 2000 and 2002.