Jeg adds anxiety to Gatornationals equation By late Saturday afternoon, Jeg Coughlin found himself in one of the worst positions a competitor can be in at a drag race. The three-time NHRA champion and former Gatornationals winner entered the...
Jeg adds anxiety to Gatornationals equation
By late Saturday afternoon, Jeg Coughlin found himself in one of the worst positions a competitor can be in at a drag race. The three-time NHRA champion and former Gatornationals winner entered the last session of qualifying outside the field of cars that had earned a spot in Sunday's elimination field. Coughlin's entire race weekend quickly into a black and white situation -- make the field or go home.
With a capacity crowd at Gainesville Raceway cheering him on, Coughlin coolly showed why he's collected 45 national event trophies in his career as he shrugged off the worst weather and track conditions of the weekend to make the field with air to spare in a session that ultimately saw little other change on the elimination grid.
"We got wildly out of shape in the first round today, which forced me to abort our second run in a row, so we took the car back to the pits and decided to make some pretty drastic changes," Coughlin said. "We went back to some old baseline numbers we had gained earlier this year and the car responded.
"It's always a little nerve-wracking when you hear the announcers on the P.A. system saying you're not in the show and you know you only have one shot left. But this team is so talented that I had confidence we could make a pass that would get us in there. Naturally, I'm very pleased with the number we put up, especially in the heat."
Coughlin's opportune 6.686 at 207.13 mph placed his Jeg's Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T into the No. 10 position and sets up an interesting first-round showdown with fellow two-time Pro Stock champion Jim Yates. Coughlin's run was the fastest of his career, while Yates posted both the quickest and fastest run of his life.
"All the cars in the field are right on the edge of making career best runs so it'll be tough no matter who is in the other lane," Coughlin said. "If we can find a way to maximize the potential of this Jeg's Mail Order Dodge we should be able to make a mark tomorrow."
Considered one of the most prestigious races on the circuit, the 36th annual Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals will begin promptly at 11 a.m. ET Sunday. The first round of Pro Stock should take place somewhere around noon. ESPN2 will carry the event.