Houston: Coughlin, Seeling preview

BAYTOWN, Texas - Jeg Coughlin Jr. began 2000 with high hopes after finishing second in the points standing behind Warren Johnson the past two years. Coughlin, from Columbus, Ohio, jumped out to what would prove to be an insurmountable lead,...

BAYTOWN, Texas - Jeg Coughlin Jr. began 2000 with high hopes after finishing second in the points standing behind Warren Johnson the past two years. Coughlin, from Columbus, Ohio, jumped out to what would prove to be an insurmountable lead, winning six of the first seven events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in his Jeg's Mail Order Oldsmobile Cutlass. He quickly became the front-runner among the Pro Stock competitors for the series title in the 200-mph category.

Although Coughlin never relinquished the top spot in the standings, a mid-season slump did enable Ron Krisher and Kurt Johnson to stay alive in the championship hunt. By early September however, Coughlin had regained his early-season form. After a six race hiatus from the winner's circle, he has won three of the past four events, increasing his season win total to 10 and clinching his first career NHRA Winston Pro Stock championship. His 10 victories in one season is the second-highest victory total in one Pro Stock season behind Darrell Alderman's eleven, which was established in 1991.

"Winning the championship was our goal before the season started," said Coughlin. "The season is not over for us, even though we won the championship. We have three races left and our goal is to break Alderman's single season win record. We currently have won ten races and we are on target to break the long standing record."

That record will be in serious jeopardy when Coughlin competes in the fourth annual Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions, Oct. 26-29, at Houston Raceway Park. Coughlin is a two time winner of the $1.9 million race, the 22nd of 23 events in the 2000 series.

K. JOHNSON LOOKING TO REBOUND AFTER DNQ: Kurt Johnson was on a roll. He had won four of six events behind the wheel of his AC Delco Chevrolet Camaro and had climbed into second place in the NHRA Winston points standings. Even though Jeg Coughlin was way out in front, Johnson was applying some pressure. Then something happened that had only occurred three times before in his career. He didn't qualify in Memphis.

With his DNQ, Johnson was eliminated from championship contention. Now Johnson is in a battle with Ron Krisher for second in the standings. "We'll regroup," said the Lawrenceville, Ga., resident. "We know we are fighting for No. 2 right now. It hurts, but it's not going to kill us."

SEELING LOOKING TO LOCK UP FIRST WINSTON CHAMPIONSHIP: Angelle Seeling could leave Houston Raceway Park as the second female Winston champion in the history of the NHRA. The legendary Shirley Muldowney earned three series titles during her career.

Seeling, from New Orleans, enters the next-to-last Pro Stock Motorcycle event with a 138-point lead over her nearest competitor, Matt Hines. Since 138 is the maximum point total available for a professional competitor at a national event, Seeling is one point away from her first Winston title.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Ron Krisher