Coughlin Leads Mopar in Qualifying at NHRA SpringNationals in Houston
· Mopar competing this weekend at the NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries
· Top Mopar on Friday ‘HEMI® Day’ is Coughlin as provisional No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock
· Defending winner in Pro Stock category is HEMI-powered Vincent Nobile
· Hagan coming off title win in Charlotte with “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge and leads Funny Car points standing
· NHRA SpringNationals qualifying and eliminations will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN2
Houston, Texas (Friday, April 26) – Mopar spent the day, widely known to enthusiasts as ‘HEMI® Day’, a day to celebrate the 426 HEMI engine (as it falls on April 26th or 4/26), on track for two rounds of qualifying with their Pro Stock and Funny Car HEMI-powered Dodge entries preparing for the 26th annual NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries, the 6th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. took full advantage of his HEMI power and went straight to the top of the timing charts on his second qualifying pass with a low elapsed time of 6.569 seconds (211.20 mph. But as great as his run was, he quickly had a bit of peddling to do after the finish line when his parachutes didn’t deploy.
“You’ve got to be ready for anything and to be quite honest with you, I wasn’t ready for that,” said Coughlin who is currently fourth in the Pro Stock points with two final round appearances so far this year. “Our parachutes always work and work well. We made a fantastic run, but my attention was quickly called away by just trying to get stopped.”
Once Coughlin got his car stopped just before the runoff area without any damage, he was able to reflect on finally dislodging competitor Mike Edwards from the top spot for the first time this year.
“It’s our first time at the top with the JEGS/Mopar Dodge Avenger with J&J horsepower and let me tell you, it feels pretty nice. We’re going to do our best to peck away at this thing and see if we can have a better racecar tomorrow.”
Of all the Mopar drivers, Pro Stock driver Vincent Nobile is likely the one most looking forward to this weekend’s event as the two-time defending winner at Royal Purple Raceway, and the site of his first career victory. Nobile and his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger team have had a good start to 2013 with a win in the season opener and a fifth place spot in the standings after five events. Working with the Mopars of J & J Racing’s Allen Johnson and Coughlin as teammates has helped keep his confidence up.
“I have a hard working team who doesn’t give up and we’re hoping to get back on track this weekend,” said Nobile who was 11th in qualifying with an e.t. of 6.614 seconds (209.98 mph). “We’ve never qualified in the top-3 here but for whatever reason Royal Purple Raceway treats my team well. We are currently not running up to our par, but I feel confident we can make a run at the Championship by the time it really counts, the Countdown to the Championship.”
Winner of titles at both the GatorNationals and Las Vegas, Johnson is working to get back to the winners circle. While he posted the second best run of the first session with a 6.680 second e.t. (211.49 mph), Johnson’s Pro 1 Dodge Avenger did not improve on his second pass, putting him seventh on the qualifying charts. HEMI-powered V.Gaines (6.602 sec / 210.57 mph) is in 10th spot.
Matt Hagan, who is coming off a big Funny Car class title win at the 4-Wide Nationals last weekend in the Don Schumacher Racing “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Charger R/T, is hoping to add another title to his current count of six career wins as soon as possible.
“It’s phenomenal to have our guys and our racecar come together,” Hagan said. “It builds confidence and effects how I drive the car. I can focus on what I have to do. I haven’t felt this good in a while about racing.”
Hagan was sixth after two qualifying runs with a best elapsed time of 4.127 seconds (309.13 mph) while the top Dodge was that of teammate Jack Beckman in fourth spot with a 4.117 (304.39 mph). Fellow Mopar teammates Ron Capps finished his two passes 11th with an e.t of 4.201 (293.79 mph) and Johnny Gray was 14th with a 4.544 second (227.65 mph) run.
Qualifying for the pro classes resumes on Saturday at 12 noon.
This weekend, Mopar fans will be treated to direct television coverage of the NHRA SpringNationals on ESPN2 from Royal Purple Raceway near Houston with a live show on Saturday, April 27, from 3-5 p.m. (ET), showcasing the final round of qualifying. ESPN2’s race day telecast begins on Sunday, April 28, at 2 p.m. (ET) with a three-hour live coverage telecast of both semifinal and final rounds of eliminations at the SpringNationals.