Semifinal finish pleases Coughlin Phoenix, Sunday: If Firebird International Raceway was a little bit longer than the standard 1,320 feet, than Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin could very well be celebrating his 34th career win. However, ...
Semifinal finish pleases Coughlin
Phoenix, Sunday: If Firebird International Raceway was a little bit longer than the standard 1,320 feet, than Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin could very well be celebrating his 34th career win. However, Coughlin's late, down-track charge against semifinal foe and eventual race winner Allen Johnson came up just one hundredth of a second short, relegating the three-time NHRA champion to a respectable final four finish.
"We made a heck of a lot of progress this weekend," Coughlin said. "You're never 100-percent happy unless you're in the winner's circle at the end of the day but this is about as happy you can be next to that.
"There is so much talent on this team, both in the crew guys that come to the track as well as the guys back at the shop. Our best days are definitely ahead of us and hopefully they keep coming for many years."
The Jeg's Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T driver started his 154th race day with a huge win over back-to-back POWERade champion Greg Anderson, which came courtesy of a holeshot at the starting line. Coughlin's cosmic .009-second reaction time against Anderson's .031-second launch translated to a 6.773-second, 203.06-mph victory at the other end, just ahead of Anderson's quicker but losing 6.761 at 204.91 mph
In the quarterfinals, Coughlin faced his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Richie Stevens, who had earned top qualifier honors Saturday. With another great light, a .012 to Stevens' .036, Coughlin once again turned on the win light with a 6.781 at 203.65 mph against the 6.802 at 204.26 mph pass of Stevens.
With a trip to the finals on the line, Coughlin allowed Johnson to get a slight, nine-thousandths of a second jump when the light turned green. He then played catch-up all the way down the track, posting a 6.780 at 203.98 mph at the finish line, just one-thousandths of a second off Johnson's 6.779 at 202.64 mph. When added to his quicker reaction time, A.J. took the win by .01 seconds.
"I'm pretty happy with my driving this weekend," Coughlin said. "I needed a little more [reaction time] at the Tree there in the semifinals but we probably should've run a 6.74 instead of a 6.78 and then my light wouldn't have mattered as much.
"It's great to be back in the top 10. It's good that Richie is there with us also because it's just flat-out silly for us not to be in the top 10 from here on out."