Columbus: Jeg Coughlin preview

Under pressure, Jeg Coughlin hopes to please Pressure is a part of drag racing. There is the pressure of lining up your car against the best drivers in the world. There is the pressure of keeping your engine program up to par with the other...

Under pressure, Jeg Coughlin hopes to please

Pressure is a part of drag racing. There is the pressure of lining up your car against the best drivers in the world. There is the pressure of keeping your engine program up to par with the other teams. There is the pressure of maintaining your focus through a 23-race season. There is the pressure of traveling and being away from home.

But perhaps the biggest pressure of all is the one that will be faced by three-time series champion Jeg Coughlin when he brings his Jeg's Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T to National Trail Raceway for the 41st annual Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals - the pressure of racing at home. JEvery drag racer has to deal with it at some point. For Coughlin, a race in his backyard means a pit-full of old high school and college friends, the massive extended Coughlin family, and hundreds of employees from Jeg's Mail Order, who all live in the greater Columbus area and support their favorite driver with gusto.

"It's always a great deal of fun because this is the race all your friends and family come out to and they're always fired-up for the event," Coughlin said. "There is a certain level of pressure that comes with that because, although you want to win every race you enter no matter where it might be, you tend to really push yourself extra hard at home because you want everyone to have the best time possible."

Coughlin came through big in 1998 when he scored his first hometown win as a professional in his first full year behind the wheel. He followed that victory up with a strong runner-up showing the following season.

"We know what it takes to win here," Coughlin said. "My crew chief, Bob Glidden, has nine wins at this track, way more than anyone else in any professional category so it'll be a big advantage to lean on his expertise and experience.

"Both of our team cars are running really strong now. Richie [Stevens, his teammate at Don Schumacher Racing] and I have both had our moments this year and we couldn't be happier with where our program is at the moment. You have to remember, this group was assembled in a very short amount of time in the off-season. We're still growing.

"Will I feel some pressure this weekend? You bet. But I've always prided myself on being able to turn that pressure into a positive driving force."

The Coughlin name has been synonymous with winning atwhat thefamily and local fansdescribe as their "home track". The four Coughlin brothers have combined to win 8 NHRA national event titles at National Trail Raceway.

Qualifying begins Friday with sessions beginning at 4 and 7 p.m.

-www.jegs.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Don Schumacher