Semifinals finish makes Coughlin smile Three-time series champion Jeg Coughlin completed one of his best races of the 2005 season by racing through to the semifinals of the 20th anniversary O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at...
Semifinals finish makes Coughlin smile
Three-time series champion Jeg Coughlin completed one of his best races of the 2005 season by racing through to the semifinals of the 20th anniversary O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at the Texas Motorplex. This is just the fourth time in 21 races Coughlin has reached the final four this year. He now has three semifinal finishes to go with one runner-up result.
Coughlin started the day with a thrilling holeshot win over his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Richie Stevens. Knowing he needed a good reaction time to beat the higher qualified Stevens, Coughlin sprinted out first with a .020-second start. But Stevens was close behind with a .027-second reaction time. The race was on at that point with Coughlin barely managing to keep the hard-charging Stevens from crossing the finish line first, winning with a 6.710 to Stevens' quicker but losing 6.707. The .0043-second margin of victory made it the closest race of the day in any category.
"Richie's always tough and his car is an identical twin to mine so the pressure was on the drivers," Coughlin said. "I got lucky this time and took the win. It certainly started the day off on a high note."
Next up was longtime friend and rival Kurt Johnson, who was 2-2 against Coughlin coming into this event. After another steady start, a .033-second starting line clocking, Coughlin once again marched to a victory with a 6.786 at 205.10 mph. Johnson got out of shape early in his run and was forced to shut off his motor to avoid an accident.
"Our run wasn't much better," Coughlin said. "For some reason the combination we were running in the Jeg's Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T just didn't agree with the racetrack. It wasn't the track because other guys were running strong. It was just the way we were running it."
Coughlin was pressed once again in the semis, taking on championship contender Jason Line. Once again the savvy veteran delivered a great starting line advantage, leaving a full five-hundredths of a second ahead of Line. Unfortunately for the yellow-and-black faithful, Line was able to catch and pass Coughlin to win by nine thousandths of a second.
"It was a good weekend overall," Coughlin said. "The team has made tremendous progress all season considering it didn't exist until January. Still, we're all hungry for wins and championships and when the end result isn't what you want you're never 100 percent happy.
"There are two races left and we'll do all we can to finish strong."