Reigning Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. fell one round short of the finals, but his strong semifinal showing Sunday in Sonoma was more than enough to punch his ticket to this year’s six-race Countdown to the Championship, which starts in mid-September.
“It wasn’t a bad weekend at all; actually it was a very good weekend,” Coughlin said in a release published on the team’s official website. ” We made it to the semifinals, which was better than a bunch of the others here. Qualifying went well in all but one session and it was more of the same today, so we continue to feel like we have a great race car.”
Coughlin picked up wins against Deric Kramer and four-time world champ Greg Anderson before veteran Vieri Gaines knocked him off in the semis.
Coughlin started slow against Kramer, but his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart had plenty of horsepower to make up the deficit as it delivered Coughlin a 6.527 win at 212.16 mph against Kramer’s 6.597 at 210.31 mph.
In the quarterfinals against Anderson, Coughlin was first off the line and stayed just ahead of his friendly rival all the way down the quarter-mile, posting a 6.558 at 212.23 mph pass to Anderson’s 6.563 at 211.73 mph, a margin of victory of just .007-second.
“We came out ready to roll with a nice 6.52 in the first round to stay in front of Deric Kramer, who gave us quite a challenge,” said Coughlin, a 58-time winner in Pro Stock. “We came back and had a big matchup with Greg Anderson and stayed in front of him as well by just a few thousandths of a second.”
Coughlin was all over Gaines at the starting line, leaving in .017-seconds compared to his opponent’s .085-second launch, but the car went sideways early in the run, allowing Gaines to take the win at 6.556 seconds at 211.89 mph, with Coughlin crossing in 6.790 at 187.44 mph.
“The racing out here is tight,” Coughlin said. “The engine guys are working their tails off, the chassis guys are working their tails off, crew chiefs are working their tails off, and it’s tight. We really felt like we had a car that was going to go right down the lane against V. I can tell you our guys are scratching their heads right now because that’s not what they had in mind, obviously, by any stretch.
“Fortunately (Jason) Line didn’t have any problems going down the same lane after us, which let us know we were just a little off. If we can take this result and turn it into something even more positive as we trek down the road and into the Countdown, then that’s going to win us rounds, win us races, and hopefully another championship.”
Next up, the tour heads to Seattle for this weekend’s event at Pacific Raceways.