Reading: Jeg Coughlin preview

Coughlins love their own version of Happy Valley   To most Pennsylvanians Happy Valley is the home of Penn State University. To the decorated Coughlin family drag racing clan, a truly "Happy Valley" is on the other side of the state in the form...

Coughlins love their own version of Happy Valley   To most Pennsylvanians Happy Valley is the home of Penn State University. To the decorated Coughlin family drag racing clan, a truly "Happy Valley" is on the other side of the state in the form of historic Maple Grove Raceway, which lies nestled in the rolling hills of Amish Country just outside Reading.   Over the years, the Coughlins have made Maple Grove as comfortable a place to ply their trade as the Nittany Lions have made State College, with team leader Jeg Coughlin racking up two national event victories at the track to go with a stunning national elapsed time record, and brother Troy collecting his memorable first NHRA win.   "Reading has always been an extremely exciting place for us to race," Jeg said. "It's one of those tracks that's usually in very good shape and the maintenance and preparation make it a place that you can really attack, especially down low, which is so important for these high-horsepower Pro Stock cars. Over the years, that's served us very well."   Without question, the Ohio-based team's 2001 visit to Western Pennsylvania was the best, with reigning series champion Jeg producing a 6.750-second, quarter-mile run that reset the NHRA's record book for the Pro Stock class. Later in the day, after dismissing Jeg in the semifinals, Troy powered through for his first NHRA victory with a big win over New Jersey's Tom Martino.   "There's no reason to think we can't have more success like that this time through," said Jeg, who enters this year's 20th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals as the sole representative of the Jeg's Mail Order camp. "There always seems to be good cloud cover and if Mother Nature surprises us and we get temperatures down in the mid-50s, which could be possible under the right conditions, we can try for another record.   "The more pressing goal for this Jeg's Mail Order team is to get the victory. We've been fortunate enough to win two times in Reading, once in 1996 in my Super Gas car, and again in 1999 in my Pro Stock car, so we know how to get the job done at that track. We'd definitely like to add another one to the books before the year is over and it would be awesome to do it in Reading.   "I've always enjoyed racing in the Northeast. The fans love Pro Stock and appreciate the effort it takes to make these carbureted cars run the sort of numbers we run these days. We're feeling good about our program at the moment and I like our chances."   Jeg has raced to consecutive final four finishes at the last two NHRA national events after qualifying in second and fourth place, respectively. He also had the quickest car two weekends ago at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Of note, Jeg has never started a Reading race day lower than seventh on the elimination grid.   The 20th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals kicks off with two rounds of professional time trails scheduled for 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Friday.   -jegs-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Tom Martino