Volume III, Issue 3, Page 24

CHEVY CARS RULE AT GATORNATIONALS

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Team Chevy rolled to an impressive afternoon of quarter-mile victories at the March 13-16 ACDelco Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Wins for the red bowtie included an all-GM final round in Pro Stock won by Jeg Coughlin Jr., an all-Chevy Impala SS Funny Car final round won by defending POWERade champion Tony Pedregon, Frank Manzo's 73rd career national-event victory in Lucas Oil Alcohol Funny Car, and additional Lucas Oil Sportsman wins for Chevrolet in Comp Eliminator, Stock Eliminator and Super Gas.

Jeg Coughlin Jr. captured his first victory of the season by driving his Chevy Cobalt to a final-round win over Jason Line, the second time this year Coughlin has advanced to the title round. Coughlin entered raceday with the yellow-and-black Jegs Mail Order Chevrolet qualified in the No. 3 position. Coughlin defeated Ron Krisher in round one with a 6.618 e.t. at 207.62 mph, Greg Anderson in round two running 6.645 seconds at 208.07 mph, and Johnny Gray in round three with a 6.661 e.t. at 208.23 mph.

In the finals against Jason Line, Coughlin's Cobalt launched first with .026 reaction and held off Line's Pontiac GXP all the way to the stripe, crossing the line in 6.652 seconds at 208.07 mph. Line's GXP ran 6.656 seconds at 209.10 mph. Coughlin's margin of victory was .028 of a second.

"It feels great, without question," Coughlin said. "It certainly feels like we earned this one. The entire weekend was a grind, from losing Friday's two qualifying sessions to rain on through to the trials and tribulations of race day. It took a toll on us all. But the reward was worth it."

In addition to Coughlin and Line, Mike Edwards was the third driver in a GM-branded car to advance to the semifinal round in Pro Stock. Edwards qualified the Penhall Pontiac in the No. 4 position and defeated V. Gaines in round one and Allen Johnson in round two before losing to Line in the semifinals. Edwards advanced to fifth place in the Pro Stock standings and is now just one eliminator round shy of his 200th career round win. 

Tony Pedregon's first victory of the season came in an exciting all-Chevy Impala Funny Car final-round duel with drag racing veteran Gary Densham. Pedregon entered raceday with the Q Horsepower Chevrolet qualified in the No. 1 spot. He defeated Jerry Toliver in round one running 4.861 seconds at 317.12 mph, Ashley Force in round two with a 5.982 e.t. at 239.10 mph and Jim Head in round three with a 5.034 second run at 308.43 mph.