For the first time since 2010, multi-time K&N Horsepower Challenge champ Jeg Coughlin secured the NHRA Pro Stock pole during the 26th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas. Coughlin became only the second driver of the 2013 season to start race day at the top and grab the low qualifier bonus check from K&N Engineering, as K&N’s Mike Edwards had a stranglehold on the top spot during the first five events of the year.
Jeg Coughlin became the K&N Horsepower Challenge $3,000 bonus check winner for the NHRA SpringNationals
K&N Horsepower Challenge champ Jeg Coughlin secured the NHRA Pro Stock pole during 26th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals
During the first qualifying session on Friday, it would be Shane Gray and his 2013 Camaro grabbing the provisional pole with a 6.570. K&N’s Mike Edwards, who has been the one to beat during qualifying to this point of the season, made a very uncharacteristic lap and shut off early when his 2013 Camaro shook early in the run and slowed to only a 7.507. In an earlier pair, Coughlin opened his qualifying attempts with a solid 6.604 to jump into the top half of the ladder at number six.
Friday’s second session proved to be an extra important one, as weather would wash any further qualifying the following day. Mike Edwards found a little more of his power and in the opening pair bounced all the way up from the bottom to number two with a 6.572, but it would be Jeg Coughlin who would be hard to stop in more ways than one.
After soaring up to the number one spot by a mere one-thousandth of a second with a 6.569 at 211.20, Coughlin also nearly sailed into the sand trap at the far end of race track after a parachute malfunction. The multi-time NHRA champion was on and off of the brakes in his Dodge Avenger and managed to stop the car just mere inches from getting into the marbles.
Jeg Couighlin marked the 18th Pro Stock pole of his stellar career after his win at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas
“You have to really be ready for anything,” Coughlin said following a masterful driving job. “But I honestly wasn’t ready for that one. Our parachutes always work and work well, and this run was really fantastic but my attention was quickly stolen. Fortunately this is a long shutdown area. It also is a seasoned shutdown area and has a lot of bumps.
“I had to be careful and not lock it up. I didn’t want to slide too much in slowing from 211 to 180 to 160 to 150. Once it gets slower you can slide a bit but you always have to be mindful you have someone in the lane next to you. The last thing I wanted to do was tangle up two of these things.”
Luckily for Coughlin, damage to his Pro Stock entry was minimal and he mentioned that his team would swap out the front tires just as a precautionary measure before Saturday’s qualifying runs.
At this point, Coughlin had managed to stop the freight train of Mike Edwards and if nothing else, at least slow his momentum.
“It doesn’t hurt,” Coughlin admitted following Friday’s activities, when asked how important it was to curb the point leader’s charge. “Mike has had the pole at the first five events and I’m sure if he has anything to say about it, he’s coming for this number one position tomorrow. And to be honest, he has a good chance of doing it.”
Come Saturday, the persistent rain washed out most of Pro Stock qualifying and that left Jeg Coughlin Jr as the number one qualifier as well as the K&N Horsepower Challenge $3,000 bonus check winner for the NHRA SpringNationals, helping to boost his point total for the 2014 Challenge.
His latest feat marked the 18th Pro Stock pole of his stellar career, and now the second at Houston. This was also the first time first time Coughlin held the top spot since joining up with Allen Johnson.
“It speaks volumes as to where our team has come from this year,” he said of his qualifying performance. “We owe a lot of credit to J&J Racing and Allen Johnson, Roy Johnson and the whole family. When we decided to put a two car team together literally with one team and we’ve been fortunate to be able to do that and communicate extremely well. Between he [Allen Johnson] and I and Vincent Nobile, we’ve made a great threat thus far in the ’13 season. To get our first pole in a couple of seasons is fantastic.”
Even if the rains had stayed away, the air conditions were very sticky compared to the previous day, but Coughlin still felt there could have been some juggling of names on the ladder. “I think there was a shout at it,” he said when asked if teams could have improved. “As well as Mike [Edwards] has been running, I think there was definitely a 6.56 out there, probably not much more than that and we were hoping to come back out and run a solid 6.57, unless we just absolutely killed it. We had made some changes to fine tune the car from yesterday.”
With the 2014 K&N Horsepower Challenge chase just getting started three events ago in Las Vegas, Coughlin moves within ten points of current leader, Mike Edwards. Shane Gray, 2013 K&N Horsepower Challenge champ Allen Johnson and Erica Enders-Stevens wrap up the top five.
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