Phoenix: Jeg Coughlin preview

Confident Coughlin ready to put the pieces in place Three-time NHRA champ Jeg Coughlin has been around drag racing his entire life. The son of a Top Fuel racer, Coughlin and his brothers literally grew up in the sport. So when he forms an...

Confident Coughlin ready to put the pieces in place

Three-time NHRA champ Jeg Coughlin has been around drag racing his entire life. The son of a Top Fuel racer, Coughlin and his brothers literally grew up in the sport. So when he forms an opinion on something revolving around drag racing, he's usually right.

Coughlin enters this weekend's 21st Checker, Schuck's, Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway brimming with confidence. As part of the powerful eight-car Don Schumacher Racing conglomeration, Coughlin knows that he and his teammates have everything it takes to win at their disposal.

From 10-time series champion Bob Glidden, who serves as Coughlin's crew chief, to the team's traveling chef, Nicky Morse, Coughlin and company seemingly have all the bases covered at all times. The nine-year Pro sees that advantage as the difference between Victory Circle celebrations on Sunday evening or packing up Sunday morning.

"In the modern day of drag racing, especially in the Pro Stock class, just about every full-time team has the pieces it needs to win," Coughlin said. "The difference between the top qualifier and the person at the bottom of the grid is usually the people the driver surrounds himself with. It sounds simple, but it's true.

"I look around this pit and I see a program fully capable of being a top-five team at all times. In fact, my new teammate Richie Stevens and I should both be in the top five. We not only have the pieces in place, we have the talent assembled here to put them together the right way. This team will be competitive all year long."

It's hard to argue with Coughlin, who has 45 national event victories to his credit including two at Firebird International Raceway -- the 2000 Pro Stock title and the 1995 Super Stock crown. The only thing slowing the group at the moment is the fact they just came together in the off-season when, after several years with his family's team, Coughlin decided to join Don Schumacher Racing.

"I make no excuses," Coughlin said, "but you can't get around the fact we're a fairly new group. The experience factor among the crew is through the roof, and that will help us come together that much quicker, but a new group of guys is bound to be slightly more error prone in the beginning. Having said that, we all know that Don Schumacher continues to supply us with everything we could every want or need to win. For us, it's just a matter of fine-tuning two or three things and we'll be in contention.

"Hopefully it all starts this weekend in Phoenix. I've won a couple of trophies there so we know what it takes. I like the racetrack and the people of Arizona so we're excited."

-jegs-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Bob Glidden , Don Schumacher