Jeg Coughlin Jr. announced his retirement Saturday morning. On Saturday night, The Natural earned the 33rd No. 1 qualifier of his career.
His 6.525-second pass at 210.64-mph from the final qualifying session of the 60th Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals blew the doors off the competition, serving as an impressive kick-off of the 50th season of Pro Stock. He will race No. 16 qualifier, Joey Grose, in the first round as he seeks his sixth Pro Stock world championship in his final season behind the wheel of his JEGS.com Pro Stock Chevy Camaro.
The top half of the ladder could not be tighter. Deric Kramer and Jason Line are separated by five spots on the ladder (second to seventh) and just .009-second, an astonishing look at the parity in the category.
Defending champ Erica Enders began her title defense by securing the No. 3 seed and a battle against the Ford Mustang of Cristian Cuadra. She ran a 6.553 in her Melling Performance Chevy Camaro.
Kenny Delco started the weekend with a bang, running his Chevy Camaro with a Frank Iaconio engine to a 6.553. That earned him the No. 4 seed and, less fortunately, a first-round battle with teammate Val Smeland.
Marty Robertson failed to make the field in his Pro Stock debut. His best lap, a 6.719 hit at 208.04, came in the third qualifying session after he failed to get down the track in his first two passes. The Texan will return to action at the next stop on tour, the NHRA Arizona Nationals, to attempt to qualify with Elite Motorsports in his Cure Kids Cancer Chevy Camaro.
Alan Prusiensky, Fernando Cuadra Sr. and Tom Huggins also missed the field that kicked off the 50th season of Pro Stock. Cuadra's miss may come as the biggest surprise at the 60th Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com as both of his team cars made the show. His best run was a 6.695, slotting him into the No. 19 spot.