Coughlin Qualifies Dodge Dart No.2 at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
· Coughlin narrowly misses No.1 Pro Stock qualifier position with his Dodge Dart at 14th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on Father’s Day
· Hometown favorite Johnson qualifies Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart fifth at Bristol Dragway
· Capps is top DSR Mopar in Funny Car qualifying with third place seeding for eliminations
Bristol, Tenn. (Saturday, June 14) – Mopar Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. narrowly missed out on snagging the top position on the eliminations ladder for Sunday’s 14th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Thunder Valley Nationals after a great final qualifying run against competitor Shane Gray in which both cars posted identical elapsed time runs but the JEGS.com Dodge Dart was edged out by speed.
With less humidity and water particles in the air than the previous cooler evening, the Johnson & Johnson-tuned HEMI® engine propelled Coughlin’s Mopar to the top of the score sheets on his first pass of the day with a 6.634-second run at 207.85 mph. The JEGS.com Dodge Dart improved again on the final run of the day with a 6.621-second e.t, but saw Gray match it to earn his first career No.1 qualifier position with a speed of 208.78 mph to Coughlin’s 208.62 mph.
“I know it’s happened in my career; I don’t think it’s happened for No. 1 – probably not, I would say,” said Coughlin of losing the pole position on speed after a matching elapsed time pass. “That’s probably another first. We had a heck of a car all through qualifying. We ran two real nice runs yesterday and ran second and third in the sessions yesterday. Today, we were first and second. We made small improvements coming in today, and the air was a bit dryer, and the barometric pressure was a little bit up. That’s why the Pro Stock cars were picking up in elapsed time and speed. The track stayed really, really good for as hot as that sun was on it, and the crew chiefs were able to apply quite a bit to it.”
Coughlin’s gained eight bonus points with his runs and his second place seeding will match him up against Kenny Delco in the first round of eliminations.
Teammate and crowd favorite Allen Johnson also improved his qualifying time from Friday’s sessions in the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart, but ended up fifth with his best run of 6.636 seconds (207.85 mph). The Greeneville, Tenn.-native is not only hoping to continue the streak of wins that he and Coughlin have combine to put together in the last three nationals events, but is looking to earn his first win at his home track.
“We snuck into that top-five position at the end and made a good run for Sunday but we’ve been a bit quiet,” said Johnson who will see Dave Connolly as his first round competitor. “Jeg (Coughlin)’s showing off more than we are but that’s our set up too so that means we should be good. That last run will be the conditions we should have tomorrow almost exactly so that was a good run. Everyone’s grouped together real tight and Pro Stock competition is as tight as it has ever been. All the pressure is on me just so long as the car makes that same run and I have a great run, we have a great combination.”
The HEMI-powered Dodge Dart of V. Gaines qualified 13th with a 6.690-second e.t. (206.73 mph) to face Jason Line in the first round.
With the warmest conditions for qualifying so far this season, the chances of seeing the Don Schumacher Funny Cars improve on Friday’s times proved more difficult. The Dodge Charger R/T of Ron Capps retained its third place seeding based on his Friday evening run of 4.024 seconds at 316.38 mph and was the most consistent of the DSR entries with four good runs between 4.024 and 4.188 seconds.
Tommy Johnson Jr. takes the fifth spot with his best effort of 4.074 sec. / 306.60 mph to see Cruz Pedregon in the first round.
Teammate Matt Hagan qualified the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T in the top half of the eliminations ladder as well with his eighth place effort after a 4.111-second (308.99 mph) run, providing Chad Head as a first round opponent.
Jack Beckman remained 11th with his 4.123 second / 308.99 mph pass from Friday as well and gives up lane choice to first round opponent, Courtney Force. No.1 qualifier honors went to Del Worsham.