Baytown: Jeg Coughlin preview

JEG'S Mail Order team has the right stuff After a gut-check weekend in central Florida, Pro Stock racer Jeg Coughlin enters the 18th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil with solid proof he's on one of the best teams in ...

JEG'S Mail Order team has the right stuff

After a gut-check weekend in central Florida, Pro Stock racer Jeg Coughlin enters the 18th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil with solid proof he's on one of the best teams in drag racing.

Coughlin, a three-time NHRA series champion and three-time victor at Houston Raceway Park, didn't win the Gatornationals. In fact, he lost by .009 of a second in the opening round to Jim Yates. But the effort his fledgling team displayed in getting him to Sunday has him brimming with confidence.

Since joining Don Schumacher Racing late in the off-season, Coughlin and teammate Richie Stevens have felt a sense of being a bit behind the lead pack. Yet, despite their late start, the duo actually have fared very well, successfully qualifying for all three events, logging a few elimination round wins along the way, and maintaining a top 10 ranking in the POWERade points since the season-opener in Pomona, Calif.

But what's impressed Coughlin the most so far was the gutsy fourth-round qualifying effort his Jeg's Mail Order crew came up with in Florida. Entering the final round of time trails, Coughlin and Stevens quickly found themselves outside the field of 16 cars that would race for the Gatornationals trophy. It was a stomach-wrenching time for Coughlin as his group had struggled mightily in Florida.

"I had aborted two of my first three runs," Coughlin said. "Richie wasn't doing much better. The possibility of both of us not making the show became very real."

But instead of an unsightly DNQ going on their rosters, crew chief Bob Glidden did an expert job of reading a hot racetrack and tuning his cars to the conditions and both men managed to earn a last-chance spot in the field, something few others accomplished.

"It was by far the toughest session of the weekend but the guys made the right calls and got us both in there," Coughlin said. "It was a huge shot in the arm to know that when their backs are against the wall, these guys respond like champions.

"I know what it takes to win the championship and this team has all the ingredients. The problem is a lot of teams can say that this year. We need to continue to gel and we'll be able to take it to anyone. We proved that in Florida."

-www.teamjegs.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Don Schumacher