TEXAS FAVORITE ALLEN MAKING GAINS IN TOUGH NHRA PRO STOCK WARS ENNIS, Texas - Veteran Pro Stock racer Bruce Allen knows exactly how Jeg Coughlin is feeling right about now. With six victories in seven events, the young Columbus, Ohio racer is ...
TEXAS FAVORITE ALLEN MAKING GAINS IN TOUGH NHRA PRO STOCK WARS ENNIS, Texas - Veteran Pro Stock racer Bruce Allen knows exactly how Jeg Coughlin is feeling right about now. With six victories in seven events, the young Columbus, Ohio racer is speeding along on Cloud 9.
Allen too has felt the joy and enthusiasm that comes along with being one of the dominant cars in the category. He only wishes he knew of a way to stop Coughlin's current rise. Like every other competitor in the category, Allen is baffled by the success rate of the driver of the yellow and black Olds. Like Coughlin, Allen exploded on the NHRA Pro Stock scene, winning races with abandon in the mid-1980s, and became an instant threat to Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden's turf. With 16 wins in less than three years, Coughlin is making a similar run now toward five-time category champ Warren Johnson. Many of Allen's 12 career victories came during the late '80s. During his best season, in 1989, Allen posted four victories en route to a career-best second place finish in the NHRA Winston point standings. During the last two seasons, Coughlin has posted back-to-back second place finishes.
Allen had the opportunity to add to his career win total recently in Atlanta, but faced red-hot Coughlin in the final round. The Reher-Morrison Pontiac Firebird driver is hoping for a rematch at the fourth annual Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts, May 25-28, at the Texas Motorplex.
The Arlington, Texas native has never won at the all-concrete quarter-mile near his home, but is looking for better results at the $1.9 million race, the ninth of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. The way things have been going so far, Allen is sure if he's to win at the Motorplex, he'll need to stop Coughlin's charge.
"He's the baddest guy out there right now," said Allen, 49, who last won at Canada's Le Grandnational in 1992. "He's out there flying down the track on every run and he's tough to beat. You're not going to beat him running slow. As close as Pro Stock is and as close as qualifying is, he still has the best car on race day. He goes out there and runs about what he qualifies. That's tough."
His final round appearance in Atlanta was his first since 1998 at the same track. It comes at a time when Allen's program is making progress. He has managed to qualify for every event and advanced to the second round at Phoenix, Gainesville, Fla. and Richmond, Va.
"You have to try and learn even if you don't win a round," Allen said. "You have to constantly be preparing for the next time you're in that position. We were happy with our performance in Atlanta. It's the best we've done in a long time. We're working hard to get faster. If we continue to make progress, eventually we'll be fast enough to win one of these races." Despite his final round effort, Allen remains ninth in the Winston point standings, 29 points out of fourth and 115 behind second-place Johnson. He trails points leader Coughlin by 404.
"I felt like we were going to be good this year," Allen said. "I think we've missed on a couple of opportunities to win rounds this year. You always say what goes around, comes around. I believe that. There are a lot of rounds left to race this year and at this point of the season we're battling with a lot of cars that are in the middle of the pack. We can make a nice move in the next couple of races if we do all the right things."
COUGHLIN'S STREAK: With his victory in Atlanta, Coughlin becomes only the second NHRA Pro Stock racer to win six of the first seven events, tying the mark set by the late Lee Shepherd in 1980.
"It couldn't be more fun to experience what we have experienced this year," said Coughlin, who didn't qualify for this event last year and has never won at the Motorplex. "To be as dominant as we have is amazing. The whole group in Pro Stock is within five, six or seven hundredths (of a second) every week. We've been fortunate to make the right calls."
JOHNSON'S FIRST ROUND WOES: Five-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson hopes a trip to the Texas Motorplex will cure his current ills. Johnson, who suffered back-to-back first round losses at Richmond, Va. and Atlanta, hopes to capitalize at the track where he has been the Pro Stock winner during the NHRA's last three visits. "We're still searching for a consistent combination," Johnson said. "But I think we're on to something. We won't know for sure until we run it at a number of tracks and see what the results are."
SEELING LEADS BIKES: With two victories, Angelle Seeling is off to a fast start in Pro Stock Motorcycle. After leading for much of the season in 1999, Seeling has a new philosophy for 2000. It calls for less stress and more victories. "We're having a lot of fun," said Seeling, currently 80 points ahead of three-time defending Winston champion Matt Hines. "Instead of letting the pressure get to us, we are just going out there and having a good time and staying consistent."