Second in Pro Stock points, Coughlin only looking up in Arizona
PHOENIX (Feb. 23) – Jeg Coughlin Jr. carried his momentum from a runner-up finish in the season opener last weekend to qualify the JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger in the No. 6 spot for Sunday’s eliminations at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.
“The last six runs we made in Pomona were all competitive runs,” Coughlin said. “That was our goal coming in here. We wanted to build off of Pomona and see how we did here.”
Coughlin had a best lap of 6.544 seconds at 211.36 mph to land in the exact qualifying spot he went to the final round from a week ago.
“It’s a good enough spot and worked out pretty good for us last time,” Coughlin said. “It’s supposed to be a little bit cooler tomorrow so we think it might come to us a little bit. I don’t see us making a lot of changes.”
Coughlin faces off against No. 11 qualifier Rodger Brogdon in the first round of eliminations. Brogdon’s best pass was in 6.578 seconds at 210.70 mph.
It’s the second race with Coughlin teamed up with defending Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson, and the five-time world champion said the extra set of data every round is already paying off.
“I’ve been running extremely well during the weekend and they looked at our data and decided to make a change on A.J.’s car,” Coughlin said. “It was quite a bit different than the way we ran our car the first two round of qualifying this weekend.
“They said if this comes to light, we’ll need to put this change in your car for Q4 – which we did because he ran real well this morning.”
And running well translates to a ton of confidence behind the wheel and throughout the pit.
“Everybody is feeling really good on the team,” Coughlin said. “I need to shake this cold I’ve got a little bit and I’ll be right there with them. When you are putting down all these competitive runs it makes you really confident and you just get that much more honed in as a driver. I really hit the tree well my last three runs and I feel like I’ve got a good gameday setup.”
The NHRA Arizona Nationals get under way at 11 a.m. PST on Sunday morning. ESPN2 will air the eliminations show Sunday night starting at 8 p.m. EST.
DELAWARE, Ohio (Jan. 29) — The preseason preparations of five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. got off to a career-best start at a recent session in Bradenton, Fla. Working alongside new teammate Allen Johnson, the recently-crowned Pro Stock king, Coughlin made several passes in the 6.4-second, 213-mph range, numbers that reflect personal bests for the 42-year-old veteran.
“We went down there hoping to get two teams to come together as one,” Coughlin said. “That happened almost immediately, which was very encouraging. Most of his guys and our guys have been in the sport a long time so they all knew each other ahead of time. It was a very natural mix of personalities.”
Coughlin’s crew had been to Johnson’s J&J Racing facility in Eastern Tennessee twice before the test to get the JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger outfitted with J&J Hemi horsepower. The two teams also worked hard to get Coughlin’s car to be as identical to Johnson’s Mopar-branded Avenger as possible.
“The multi-car concept has worked so well over the last several years and we want to do all we can to help one another win races for Mopar,” Coughlin said. “Allen set the gold standard last year. He won seven races and was low qualifier 10 times en route to winning the championship, so obviously they had their car and horsepower dialed in perfectly. We hope to emulate their success.”
The four-day test started with Coughlin making a multitude of high 6.5-second runs with top speeds of 210 mph or better. Crew chiefs Jim Yates and Mark Ingersoll pecked away at the tune-up from there and after a full day of uninterrupted work, brought on by rain storms, Coughlin found his way into new territory.
“When we got back on track on Day 4 the conditions had improved dramatically,” Coughlin said. “The guys had been adjusting several things on my car and right away it showed a big improvement. I started running high 6.4s at 213 mph, which put me right beside, or on a few occasions ahead of the top teams there. It was awesome.”
Officially, Coughlin’s career-best numbers of 6.520 seconds at 212.29 mph were set at the first Charlotte race in 2010.
“We expect to be contending right out of the trailer in Pomona and I’m confident our numbers will improve across the board,” said Coughlin, a 52-time winner in the Pro Stock class. “Allen and his father Roy are pretty comfortable with where we are at the moment but we’ll probably swing by The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on our way to Pomona for another quick test.
“We’re very excited about the season. Mopar got its first championship in several years in 2012 and we’d love to give them back-to-back titles in 2013. That’s the goal.”
There’s no place like Pomona for JEGS.com pro Coughlin
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 7) — It surprised many when Jeg Coughlin Jr. returned from a year’s sabbatical and promptly raced his brand-new JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger to a runner-up finish at the season-opening race in Pomona earlier this year. Not only had Coughlin been away from the professional ranks for a year, but he’d elected to start a new racing program from the ground-up.
“It’s been a wild ride this year, starting right here in Pomona with that runner-up finish,” Coughlin said as he prepared for this weekend’s season finale. “We certainly had high hopes for 2012 and the start we had really got the blood pumping.
“For a new team, I think we did well. We’re not fighting for the championship this time through, which is a bit of a disappointment, but to make the Countdown field and have a respectable finish in the points in our first year is pretty darn good.”
About the only people not surprised with Coughlin’s strong start, aside from the veteran crewmen in JEGS uniforms, were the drag racing historians, who know Coughlin is one of the most prolific drag racers in Pomona track history.
Since turning professional at the end of 1997, Coughlin has won six national events at the venerable old quarter-mile, and has an equal number of runner-up results. He won twice in 1999, and again in 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2007. He came in second place two times in 1998, and one time each in 2000, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
“My love affair with the Fairgrounds started back in 1992 when I clinched the Super Gas championship,” Coughlin said. “Back then they used to parade the Sportsman champs down the return road at Pomona and the response we got from the fans really made a mark on my heart. They appreciated what we had accomplished and were knowledgeable enough to know what it took to get it done. I’ve been hooked on Pomona ever since. It’s been 20 years but I still feel the exact same way.
“It’s an electric atmosphere at both races. The Winternationals are fun because the year is so full of promise and everyone is dreaming big. All the new teams are there with new cars and new paint jobs. Then you get to the Finals and the battles for the various championships are at their peak. It’s never boring at Pomona.”
Coughlin will actually have two chances to visit Pomona’s victory circle this time through as in addition to his Pro Stock endeavors, he’ll be competing in his JEGS.com Super Comp dragster. Last year, Coughlin drove the rail to a win in nearby Fontana, Calif., becoming the first drag racer in history with victories in six different eliminator categories — Pro Stock, Competition Eliminator, Top Dragster, Super Gas, Super Stock and Super Comp.
“We’ve had some success with the dragster and I’m looking forward to running it again this weekend,” Coughlin said. “Super Comp is always a tough category but we’ll give it all we got and see what happens.”
Sportsman qualifying starts at 8:15 a.m., Thursday. The first round of Pro Stock qualifying begins at 1 p.m., Thursday, and continues with a second round at 1 p.m., Friday, and two more sessions at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday, with ESPN2 carrying all of the action.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. faces longtime rival in first round matchup at Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (Oct. 27) – Jeg Coughlin Jr. qualified 10th for Sunday’s eliminations at the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals and was thrust right into some of the intrigue swirling around the Pro Stock championship battle at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Coughlin’s best lap so far at the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals was in 6.647 seconds at 207.02 mph.
“We had a good effort,” Coughlin said. “We had our hopes up that some advancements we planned on having would work, but it didn’t pan out the way we wanted them to. We made three good runs out of four, and looking back, we think we could have been a little more aggressive on the last run.
“On the whole, we’ve got good data for tomorrow. We’d rather be on the lane choice side of things, but fortunately both lanes here are pretty good.”
Coughlin squares off against No. 7 qualifier and longtime rival Greg Anderson, who had a best lap of 6.636 seconds at 197.39 mph. The winner of the Coughlin-Anderson pairing moves on to potentially face championship points leader Allen Johnson in the quarterfinals.
“We’re going to race hard tomorrow, no matter who is in the other lane,” Coughlin said. “We’re happy to start with Greg and hopefully move on from there.
“It’s been an exciting year for Mopar and we’re cheering on Allen to bring that championship home for Mopar, but if we race him, all bets are off.”
Coughlin is in the hunt to move up a spot in the standings himself. He’s in eighth place, only 27 points behind seventh-place Mike Edwards.
It’s been a crazy weekend already. On Friday, teams faced a stiff headwind all day, which Coughlin said changes the dynamics of making a clean run.
“Fortunately, from a handling perspective, we had a lot of downforce when it was windy, so there were no handling issues,” Coughlin said. “But having no wind today was definitely better as these cars are a little more efficient without the wind.”
Eliminations at the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals get under way at 11 a.m. PDT from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Coughlin close to realizing first goal of reaching the playoffs
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 8) – It’s taken a lot longer than expected, but Jeg Coughlin Jr.’s mission of getting the JEGS/Mopar Dodge Avenger into the Countdown to the Championship is nearly complete.
“It’s going to be a fun day on Sunday,” Coughlin said. “We want to etch our names into that Top 10, and seal a spot in this Countdown. It’s what we’ve been working hard for all season and it’s within our reach.”
Coughlin took full advantage of the extra qualifying sessions at the rain-delayed 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals moving the JEGS Dodge up from 12th to eighth place on the qualifying ladder and all but locking up a spot in the Countdown in the process.
“We wanted to make sure we got into the field solidly,” Coughlin said. “Eddie (Guarnaccia, crew chief) and the team did a really nice job of getting the car down the track both runs today.”
Coughlin’s best pass was in 6.594 seconds at 209.43 mph. He goes up against No. 9 qualifier Rodger Brogdon, who went 6.598 at 209.17 mph, in the first round.
“The second run today, we were really going after it,” Coughlin said. “We wanted to get more aggressive with it. We overstepped the line just a hair down low in first gear. It slowed us up a hundredth or two.
“We still need to get a little more efficient with that scoreboard. All those 6.55s look pretty hateful, I can promise you we will fight this fight and we’ll see if we can come out on the good end tomorrow.”
The Coughlin/Brogdon pairing has countdown implications because Shane Gray and Ronnie Humphrey both failed to qualify and dropped out of the Top 10, which pushed Coughlin into the 10 spot. The only driver outside the Top 10 with a mathematical chance to pass Coughlin is Brogdon, and Brogdon needs to win the race outright to knock Coughlin out.
“Being qualified eighth is a tough to work from,” Coughlin said. “You have a tough competitor right off the bat in the No. 9 car, and if you win that you are up against the winner of Nos. 1 and 16 in the second round.
“Right now we just need to keep our heads down, make the right calls and make some good runs tomorrow. The rest should take care of itself.”
Eliminations for the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus gets under way at 11 a.m. Sunday from Lucas Oil Raceway.
Coughlin counting the points he needs to reach the top 10
SONOMA, Calif. (July 25) — Two-time Sonoma champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. is hoping this weekend’s return to Sears Point Raceway will help him and his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger Pro Stock race team solidify a spot in the Full Throttle Top 10.
Coughlin won the annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals in 2003 and 2010 and was runner-up at the event in 2008. He certainly knows what it takes to be successful in the Wine Country. But this year is different as arrives in town with a brand-new team that didn’t even exist at this point one year ago.
“We knew this season, especially the early part of the schedule, would be tough,” Coughlin said. “We started with a new engine program and a new racecar. It’s taken us time to get up to speed in a category that is extremely competitive.
“Now we’re standing here with four races left before the Countdown and things are coming together for us. We’re just 26 points out of the top 10 and the car’s running better now than it has all year. The excitement has returned to the JEGS.com pit.”
Following the U.S. Nationals in Indy, which takes place Aug. 31- Sept. 3, only the racers in the top 10 will be eligible to race for the 2012 title through a six-race stretch known as the Countdown to the Championship. Even more important for Coughlin, the points will reset with the participating racers separated by just 100 points from top to bottom.
“Everything will tighten up considerably,” said Coughlin, who won the first championship in the playoff era. “The time to hit your peak is coming up real soon and we’re catching our stride so it could work out well for us. Ever since Eddie Guarnaccia (crew chief) came on board we’ve been making significant gains. I don’t expect that to change in Sonoma.”
Coughlin will actually have two chances to win at Sears Point as he’ll compete in both Pro Stock and Stock Eliminator, that latter in his JEGS.com Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.
“The extra seat time keeps me sharp,” Coughlin said. “The cars are so different that I’m forced to focus much harder on doing my job. We’re not good enough at this point to make mistakes and get away with it so the more consistent I can be behind the wheel, the easier it is for the crew to peck away at the tune-up and find those fractions of a second we need.
“I’m excited about this race. I love the track and the fans are great out here. It’s a beautiful part of the country. Everything is pointing in the right direction for us. Best of all, my great friend Kyle Seipal races out here so we’ll get to spend some time with him.”
Pro qualifying begins with two sessions at 3 and 6 p.m., Friday.
Frustration sets in for past champion Coughlin
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 2) – Five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. is ready to go back to the drawing board after failing to qualify his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger for Pro Stock eliminations at this weekend’s 43rd annual Jeg Coughlin Jr Raceway Park.
“We had a tough run here this weekend,” Coughlin said. “We’ve got the whole puzzle in front of us; we’ve just had a lot of struggles putting the pieces together the right way.”
Coughlin only made it down the track one time under power in four qualifying attempts during the weekend. His lone full-pull clocked in 6.663 seconds at 207.46 mph. The No. 16 qualifier had a best lap of 6.628 at 208.39 mph.
“We changed motors before Q4,” Coughlin said. “The other one was down on power after it took two beatings on Friday when we shook the tires both times. It showed in Q3 this morning, when we went down the track but were down about 80 horsepower, which was reflected in our elapsed time.”
The Q4 run was almost a carbon copy of the tire shaking runs from Friday.
“I’m not sure where we’re going to go from here,” Coughlin said. “I think that we’ll come up with our most aggressive plan yet. So far we’ve been taking a wait-and-see approach. I think it might be time to corral the troops up and see where we need to go.
“What we’ve been doing has not been well-received by the car, and the only thing we can do is work even harder fix it. Drag racing can be humbling. We’re putting in the same amount of work it takes to win a championship, which we know from personal experience, we just haven’t been rewarded yet.”
Coughlin said he’s had similar bad starts to the season in the past, so no one on Team JEGS is close to panicking.
“In 2002 we had some DNQs early in the year, and were able to rebound big time.” Coughlin said. “There’s a lot of racing left in the season, but it’s always better to get the ship turned around sooner than later.”
Coughlin and the JEGS/Mopar Dodge Avenger’s next race is the June 15-17 Thunder Valley NHRA at Bristol Dragway at Bristol, Tenn.
HOUSTON (April 23) – Royal Purple Raceway and the NHRA Spring Nationals will always have a special place in the memory of four-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., driver of the JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger.
The southeast Texas track is the site of some important milestone victories in Coughlin’s career, and if things work out, there could me more memorable wins coming at the April 27-29 event.
“Houston will always bring fond memories to me; it was the site of my first Super Stock win in 1994 and my first Pro Stock win in 1997,” Coughlin said. “There is something about the track and the environment there that have always yielded favorable results for me and our teams. I love the place.”
Coughlin said the atmosphere the Angel family has created at Royal Purple Raceway over the years is a big factor in the comfort level he enjoys at the facility.
“The Angels are a big, tight-knit family like we are,” Coughlin said. “(Track VP and co-owner) Seth Angel has done a fantastic job making the track better for fans and drivers alike since taking over. It’s always fun to head to Houston and enjoy their hospitality. The Angels are some of the best tracks owners on the circuit.”
On Thursday, Coughlin will play in the Darrell Russell Memorial Golf Tournament at Evergreen Point Golf Club, before getting down to the business of racing on Friday.
“This time around we are looking forward to getting our race face back on and doing battle,” Coughlin said. “We will be testing just before our trip to Houston and our main goal is to get consistency, reliability and performance out of the launch of our HEMI-powered Dodge Avenger.
“I am confident we will accomplish this favorably and this will greatly improve our ET in this sport of acceleration called drag racing.”
Coughlin also will be gunning for win in the Stock category. If he manages to succeed in that endeavor, it would be the seventh different class in which he’s won an NHRA national event, a feat unprecedented in the NHRA.
“My HEMI-powered Drag Pak Dodge Challenger is ready to pick up from where we left off in Gainesville and Charlotte,” Coughlin said. “The car has been running very well and I am getting extremely comfortable behind the wheel.”
Coughlin already is the only driver in NHRA history with wins in six classes: Super Gas, Super Stock, Comp, Pro Stock, Top Dragster and Super Comp
Qualifying for the NHRA Spring Nationals gets under way at 2:30 p.m. CDT, April 27 at Royal Purple Raceway. Two more qualifying sessions will be run starting April 28 at 11:30 a.m. with eliminations starting at 11 a.m. on April 29. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 6 p.m. EDT on April 28 and the elimination show at 7 p.m. on April 29.
CHARLOTTE (April 7) — Drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. has won five NHRA titles and a whopping 68 national events due in large part to his meticulous preparation. Aside from the expert crews he’s always had on his JEGS.com race teams, his legendary attention to detail in the cockpit has made him one of the most feared and successful drivers in the 61-year history of the sport.
For this reason alone, the unique format of the upcoming third annual VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway has him working overtime.
”I’ve been racing for more than two decades and 99.99-percent of the time I’ve been dealing with one opponent at a time,” the 41-year-old Coughlin said. “That all goes out the window with the 4-Wide Nationals. I’ve only done this format once before because I didn’t race Pro Stock last year so it’s really going to be a test for me. I’m very excited about the challenge.”
The lone racetrack on the NHRA tour with four lanes, zMax Dragway allows for an unusual style of racing where four cars simultaneously race one another. The major obstacle for the contestants is the staging process as they must deal with three other drivers putting their racecars in the beams for a fair start. “You’ve certainly got a lot more to think about up there,” Coughlin said. “We’ve seen quite a few times in the past when a racer would get counted out for not staging in time. You have to be so focused on the moment and what you need to do. After the launch, it’s pretty much like any other race; you’re doing everything you can to make a perfect run. It’s that start that will make you or break you.
”It’s impossible to practice the staging deal with four cars so I’ve spent a lot of time mentally going through all the various scenarios that could play out. That’s really all you can do.”
Playing to his advantage, Coughlin has frequently tested at the Bruton Smith-owned facility as his engine shop — JNR Racing Engines — is located in nearby Mooresville. He’s also racing his JEGS.com Drag Pak Dodge Challenger in the Stock Eliminator class at this event so he’ll get twice as many looks at the Christmas Tree as his Pro Stock counterparts.
”I’m as excited to race the Challenger as I am my Avenger in Pro Stock,” Coughlin said. “We figured out a lot of things with the Challenger over the winter and I went four rounds with it in Gainesville last month so I have some confidence there. Plus, I just won Las Vegas in a Super Comp dragster so I’ve got some good mojo going.
”It keeps you extra sharp when you run two cars and I’m convinced it’s helped me be better in the Pro Stock car. The competiveness of Lucas Oil Sportsman Racing and having extra looks at Tree at this race certainly won’t hurt.”
Coughlin will be joined in the JEGS pit by his wife Samantha, who will be racing in Super Comp, and his brother Troy, who runs a Pro Mod car. Samantha’s father Al Kenny and brother Jason Kenny are also entered in the event.
Pro Stock qualifying begins with sessions at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Friday and continue with two more rounds at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Pro Stock eliminations fire off at 12:45 p.m. Sunday. ESPN2 will broadcast qualifying highlights from 5-7:30 p.m. Saturday with elimination action airing from 7-10 p.m. Sunday.
LAS VEGAS (March 31) – Jeg Coughlin Jr. and the JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger rebounded nicely on Saturday to qualify No. 9 in Pro Stock for Sunday’s eliminations at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The team didn’t qualify last time out, but Coughlin said everybody buckled down in between races and got the JEGS.com car headed back in the right direction.
“Gainesville is behind us, and we made some great momentum testing in Charlotte before this race,” Coughlin said. “It didn’t solve all our problems, because we’re still looking for that something that will help our acceleration to the first 100 or 150 feet, but we’re doing better for sure.”
Coughlin turned in a best lap of 6.713 seconds at 205.57 mph.
“We’re working hard on getting the engine and chassis to work together,” Coughlin said. “But it’s still the best start we’ve had this season going into a Sunday program. We’re ready to do battle, I can promise you that.”
The weather conditions are expected to make a change for the cooler on Sunday, which Coughlin said could help his cause.
“It’s not going to be mineshaft conditions by any means,” Coughlin said. “However the cooler air will be nice and the Pro Stock cars will love the cool air. It might change everybody’s tune-up, and it might be enough to pep up our car, because we are a little lazy right now.”
Coughlin draws No. 8 qualifier Vincent Nobile, who had a best pass of 6.706 at 205.94 mph.
“We’ll have a knockdown, drag out race right off the jump,” Coughlin said. “Vince does an excellent job. But this JEGS/Mopar Avenger team is hungry. We’re wanting to rebound and show off a little tomorrow.
“It might take a miracle to pull off a lot of round wins tomorrow, but anything’s possible – we are in Vegas.”
Eliminations at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway get under way at 11 a.m. PDT.