Gainesville: Jeg Coughlin Jr pre-race notes

Jeg Coughlin Focuses on Returning to Final Round of Gatornationals Jeg Coughlin, like most NHRA drivers, is reluctant to answer the time-worn question: what's your favorite race track? "I don't have a favorite track, but I have favorite...

Jeg Coughlin Focuses on Returning to Final Round of Gatornationals

Jeg Coughlin, like most NHRA drivers, is reluctant to answer the time-worn question: what's your favorite race track?

"I don't have a favorite track, but I have favorite races," said the driver of the Slammers Ultimate Milk Pro Stock Chevy Cobalt. And one of them, the 38th ACDelco Gatornationals, is on tap Friday through Sunday at Gainesville Raceway.

"I am optimistic, eager and very excited to get back behind the wheel at the first major race of the year on the east coast," continued Coughlin, of Delaware, Ohio. "Gainesville, like (races at) Pomona (Calif.), Englishtown (N.J.) and Indianapolis, are always in my vocabulary as favorite races because they draw fans from all over the country. I think that's what makes it exciting and fun for me."

A bonus, perhaps, is that Coughlin has an outstanding performance record at the track that is located a few miles from the University of Florida. He was a finalist four consecutive seasons -- 2001-2004 -- winning in 2001. Plus he earned his first Pro Stock low qualifying award there in 1998.

"I always look forward to coming to Gainesville," he added. "I have vivid memories of my early Pro Stock years at Gainesville Raceway when I'd roll around the corner and be excited just to drop the hammer (mash the throttle)."

Since those times, Coughlin has won two POWERade Series titles (2000, 2002) and 34 races while attracting many race fans.

There is cautious optimism in the Cagnazzi Racing camp that Coughlin will be a solid contender to add to his totals at the Gatornationals. Teammate Dave Connolly tested his TORCO/Slammers Ultimate Milk Chevy Cobalt and Coughlin's Slammers Ultimate Milk Cobalt last week and the results pleased all concerned.

"They feel they learned a lot in those three days and Dave noticed a difference in the way the cars were accelerating and changing gears," said Coughlin, who is tied for ninth in POWERade Series points with 86. "The optimism Victor (Cagnazzi), Roy Simmons (Coughlin's crew chief) and Tommy Utt (Connolly's crew chief) and the test results breathe a new life into our program. We have had great horsepower, and that's certainly a big part of the equation, but once you have it, you have to become efficient and utilize it to drag racing life -- making the car fast and very efficient.

"I think that's what we were stuck on in the first two races. Yes, we were still in the top six cars between us, but we were a little more inconsistent than what the team wanted to see. Hopefully the test session ironed out some of those problems and Dave and I will be thrilled with some good laps this weekend."

They will have qualifying opportunities at noon and 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday to earn their starting positions for Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations.

-credit: cr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Dave Connolly