Flying pieces end Jeg Coughlin's day in quarterfinals Things were going great for three-time series champion Jeg Coughlin at the 18th annual NHRA Mid-South Nationals at a sweltering hot Memphis Motorsports Park. He'd overcome the heat, a bumpy...
Flying pieces end Jeg Coughlin's day in quarterfinals
Things were going great for three-time series champion Jeg Coughlin at the 18th annual NHRA Mid-South Nationals at a sweltering hot Memphis Motorsports Park. He'd overcome the heat, a bumpy right-hand lane, and teammate Richie Stevens in the opening session and had pulled the trigger quicker than quarterfinal opponent Rickie Smith and looked to be on his way to the semifinals for a fraction of a second before everything broke loose literally.
After a super-quick .027-second reaction time, Coughlin was just getting up a big head of steam when his Jeg's Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T lost the left side header collector pipe and several smaller pieces from the exhaust system, causing his engine to spike, his mind to race, and Smith enough of an edge to catch and pass him for an easy win.
As parts scattered around the launching pad, Coughlin alertly shut his car off and got out of the way, saving further damage to his car or the racetrack. It was a smart move, but it also cost the two-time Memphis champion the win.
"We had finally figured this car out and we were confident we knew how to get down this hot racetrack with a good time," Coughlin said. "I felt like we were on a great run right there but then we had a fluke deal and the car started spitting parts out the side. From the cockpit it was impossible to tell what had happened. The noise the motor makes changed dramatically when the collector piece came out and it sounded like the engine was spinning up real high. It nosed over and then shot back up and I knew we wouldn't be getting down the racetrack this time.
"We're still investigating how and why this happened. It appears to just be a freak deal. I'm not sure if I ran anything over or if there is other damage so we'll check the car out very carefully from front to back and get ready for Indy."
The next race on the NHRA schedule is the 51st annual U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Coughlin is the defending champion of the Super Stock Hemi Challenge. He hopes to defend that title and add the Pro Stock crown as well.
"We'll test next week in St. Louis," Coughlin said. "The Indy race is the granddaddy of them all and it would make our year if we could find a way to win. We'll pick up the pieces, no pun intended, from today's race and prepare ourselves for a title run."