By Lee Elder
KENT, Wash. (Aug. 3, 2018) – Jeg Coughlin grabbed the provisional pole for Pro Stock as the NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series began the Catspot Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.
Coughlin’s 6.501-second pass during the second qualifying session bested Greg Anderson and Erica Enders. Qualifying continues Saturday. Eliminations are scheduled for Sunday.
Steve Torrence qualified best in Top Fuel and Matt Hagan led Funny Car.
“It was off to a great start, .966 down low (his 60-foot time), which is one of our better short times, but it just drifted out of the groove to the left as I was getting into second (gear),” Coughlin said of his run in the second session. “I was just cracking the whip because I know we’d just lost some momentum. I was pleased to hear that we got number one and that it held.”
Coughlin’s best elapsed time Friday was 6.501 seconds. He was clocked at 212.16 mph. Greg Anderson topped the Pro Stockers in the first round but failed to improve on his time in Q2.
It was difficult for the pros to make their passes during the second session and conditions were especially difficult for the two nitro classes. The nitro classes were the last to run and the sun was blinding as the afternoon grew longer. The orb lowered itself into the sight lines of the drivers. Their qualifying runs completed, the drivers had to turn directly into the sun as they headed for the area where the crews waited to tend to the machines. The turn looked difficult to negotiate.
Hagan said, “It’s kind of a tricky race track right there, with the sun and not being able to see the grove.”
Doug Kalitta agreed, “It’s getting a little bright but we had a good run, we’re happy with that.”
Torrence’s Top Fuel-leading elapsed time was 3.723 seconds at a very zippy 331.6 mph. Clay Millican had the best Top Fuel run of the first session but he finished the second session in third place when Kalitta nabbed the second spot.
Torrence said, “We’ve done well here before in the past and had some good data. It’s always fun to come here and race. It’s a little smaller venue than some of the places we go to and kinda like the place where I grew up racing at. We’re confident going into tomorrow.”
Hagan led Funny Car at 3.913 seconds at 324.75 mph. Robert Hight and Courtney Force were next.
Hagan said, “We had a really good run in the first session that put us in the back of the pack to make the tuning decisions. … Right now, it’s about dialing in the new car and the new body. It’s going to take a few more runs, but I think Dickie (Venables, Hagan’s crew chief) has a handle on it. The drivability of the car is good and its responding to the corrections I’m making.”
Super Stock racer Rodger Comstock crashed heavily during his first-round qualifying pass Friday. Comstock struck the right side retaining wall and then crossed over to contact the left side wall. Comstock exited his car under his own power. The NHRA reported that Comstock was transported to an area hospital for evaluation.
NOTES: The professional categories all had full fields entered this weekend. Top Fuel had 16 entered, Funny Car had 18 and Pro Stock had 16. The event had 352 entries. … Among the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series entrants are Pro Stock stars Bo Butner, Drew Skillman and Jeg Coughlin. Butner is racing in Super Street, Skillman and Coughlin have entered in Stock Eliminator. … The Pro Stock field had unusual problems at the start of Q1. One car did not complete its quarter-mile run and two others needed 13 seconds or more to reach the finish line. … Funny Car racer Cruz Pedregon likes to name his cars. Friday, he raced El Guapo. Unfortunately, the car suffered a major engine failure in Q1 and Pedregon did not make an attempt in Q2. … A computer/timing system issue briefly halted the Funny Car session during Q1. The problem was discovered after the next pair of cars scheduled to run had completed their burnouts and the cars had to shut down briefly. … Bill Litton’s 3.970-second, 307.86 mph run ended without his parachute popping out. He braked the car to a stop without reaching the sand trap at the end of the racing surface, a nice piece of driving.