JOLIET, Ill., September 29, 2001 - Quick! That's the word that described the final day of qualifying at the Inaugural NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway as national records tumbled in three of the four professional categories. In Pro Stock...
JOLIET, Ill., September 29, 2001 - Quick! That's the word that described the final day of qualifying at the Inaugural NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway as national records tumbled in three of the four professional categories.
In Pro Stock Truck, Jeg's Mail Order Chevy S-10 driver Mike Coughlin is No. 1 for the third straight race in the quickest truck field in NHRA history. Coughlin set both ends of the national record with a run of 7.379 seconds at 182.65 mph.
"This is a goal we set as soon as we realized we had the potential to do it," Coughlin said after bettering the previous national marks of 7.395 and 182.40 mph. "Now that we've done it I hope it stands up. I've never had a national record before, even in Super Gas and Super Comp, so this is very special to me. I hope we keep both records through the end of the season so that I have them forever. That would be pretty prestigious.
"We're really excited that Team Jeg's could raise the bar for performance in Pro Stock Truck. I can't say enough for everyone who works so hard to make this Chevy S-10 perform. We've been working really close with Carl Foltz of CFE Racing on our engines and it is obviously paying off. It's been a total team effort from the beginning and that is why it works.
"We're working hard to get our big block program to match the successes we've had with this small block motor. This has just been an incredible piece. The only thing I'm worried about is that it's the only one we've got. I don't want to let up any because you can't but I don't want to lean on it too much either."
Bob Panella came out and ran 7.380 seconds at 182.11 mph in the last session in the Panella Trucking Chevy S-10, which was just a few ticks away from Coughlin's number.
"When Panella ran in that last session we were sweating bullets," said Coughlin. "We knew that if anyone could pass it up it would be him. We're happy to hold the record. It's a really special time for us. There was no secret that we were down in horsepower in the beginning of the year. But we started our own engine program at Pomona and it's just taken this long to get to where we are now. It's a little later in the season then we wanted but we'll take it."
Randy Daniels is third in an S-10, Don Smith is fourth in an S-10 and John Lingenfelter is fifth in a Sonoma.
Kurt Johnson made some noise of his own in Pro Stock in the ACDelco Chevy Cavalier setting both ends of the national record with a run of 6.801 seconds at 202.70 mph. This is Johnson's first pole of the season in the quickest field in NHRA history.
"Getting 20 extra points will be cool," Johnson said of the bonus points awarded for a new national elapsed-time record. "I was the national record holder in 1994 and 1999 but it's always exciting to do it again. I'm also ninth in the points right now, and the guy in third place is only 88 points ahead of me. There are seven of us fighting it out so every single point counts. If I can go some rounds here, I can make up some serious ground, especially since some of the top-10 guys didn't make the show. That just shows how tough this class really is and how hard you have to work every weekend.
"We keep beating and beating on this Chevy Cavalier. We've been doing pretty well over the last several races, but it hasn't shown because I keep losing rounds by two, three, four thousandths of a second. But if you look at it, everyone in this class is in the exact same boat so you can't complain. You have to just keep working and that is what we plan to do."
Mark Osborne is qualified second, Jim Yates is third in a Grand Am, Warren Johnson is fourth in a Grand Am, and Troy Coughlin is fifth in a Cavalier. Mike Edwards is ninth, Ron Krisher is 14th and Tom Hammonds rounds out the top-16, all in Chevy Cavaliers.
Tommy Johnson Jr. had the quickest Funny Car Camaro running a career-best elapsed time of 4.817 seconds at 308.78 mph putting him in the No. 6 position. Whit Bazemore stole the show running a national record elapsed time of 4.750 seconds at 323.27 mph to take the pole. John Force is second, Tony Pedregon is third, Tim Wilkerson is fourth and Frank Pedregon is fifth. Ron Capps drove the Skoal Racing Chevy Camaro to the 14th spot and Chuck Etchells is 16th in the Sunoco Chevy Camaro.
Team Chevrolet driver Larry Dixon drove the Miller Lite dragster to the No. 3 position with an elapsed time of 4.514 seconds at 320.58 mph. Mike Dunn stayed on top with an elapsed time of 4.511 seconds at 326.95 mph. Kenny Bernstein is second, Doug Kalitta is fourth and Doug Herbert is fifth.
The Inaugural NHRA Nationals is the 20th race on the 24-event NHRA Winston Drag Racing tour. Early round final eliminations coverage will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, September 30 beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern with final round coverage at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.