Shawn Langdon, who has a class-best five wins in 2013, lost the points lead with a first-round exit and dropped to second behind Massey. Seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher fell to fifth with a first-round loss, while Lucas climbed to third by knocking off Terry McMillen, Brandon Bernstein and Doug Kalitta to reach the championship round.
“We’ve never been in this situation of chasing a championship and we just want to continue to run well,” Lucas said. “The team gave me a great car and they carried me, and I’m just genuinely proud to be a part of this team. We’ve got a great car that everyone has a lot of confidence in and we’re just fortunate right now.”
Pro Stock’s Coughlin earned his third victory this season and 55th in his career by outrunning Jason Line in the final round. Coughlin posted a winning time of 6.583 at 210.05 in his JEGS.com Dodge Avenger, knocking off Line and his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro on a holeshot. Coughlin had a .026 reaction time to hold off Line’s quicker run of 6.578 at 210.97. Coughlin also moved past teammate and defending world champion Allen Johnson into second place in the points standings.
“There is absolutely a rivalry between the JEGS and Summit teams but I’ve been on the other side of that coin a few times,” Coughlin said. “To win this time it was great. Jason and Greg (Anderson) have done wonders in the last 30 days. Whatever they did, they did one heck of a job with it. We never counted them out, and those two horses will be extremely tough in the Countdown.”
Mike Edwards maintained the points lead, while Line’s strong performance moved him to third and dropped Johnson to fourth. Coughlin beat Greg Stanfield, Shane Gray and Edwards to reach the final round.
“We had a great car in qualifying and really the difference between us and No. 1 was just a hundredth and we felt that if we could clean up some of our inefficiencies we’d be right there,” Coughlin said. “I had the utmost confidence going into race day and to finish it off with a win in the first race in the Countdown is extremely gratifying.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines picked up his first win of the season in his first final round appearance of the year by beating Hector Arana Sr. Hines rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a winning time of 6.966 at 190.97 to knock off Arana, who fouled out with a red-light start on his Lucas Oil Products Buell. The victory was a big boost for Hines, who struggled the majority of the season and failed to advance to the Countdown.
“This is a bit bittersweet because we didn’t make the Countdown, but I plan to be a nightmare for the rest of them,” Hines said. “I said that one win during the Countdown would be sufficient for the year and I’m going to be that nightmare by taking out our Countdown competitors.”
Hector Arana Jr. maintained the points lead in the class. Matt Smith is second and Arana Sr. is now in third after advancing to his second final round of 2013.