Las Vegas II: Chevy eliminations summary

Jeg Coughlin takes fourth straight victory - Chevy Cavalier driver clinches second NHRA Pro Stock title. LAS VEGAS, Oct. 27, 2002 - Chevy Cavalier driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. captured his fourth consecutive victory and his eighth win of the ...

Jeg Coughlin takes fourth straight victory - Chevy Cavalier driver clinches second NHRA Pro Stock title.

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 27, 2002 - Chevy Cavalier driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. captured his fourth consecutive victory and his eighth win of the season today at the ACDelco NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In the process, the 32-year-old Columbus, Ohio native clinched his second NHRA POWERade championship and the first Pro Stock title for Chevrolet since 1984.

"Today took a great team effort," Coughlin said. "That's what we've enjoyed here this last few months, and the camaraderie and team work has been key. Obviously we've made more horsepower with our GM DRCE powerplant this last few months and we've been able to consistently get this Chevy Cavalier down the track. What a great race car!

"The Pro Stock class has been tough all season and today got even tougher. To get our third win here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is just outstanding. Now this place seems like a second home to us."

Coughlin came into today's eliminator qualified in the No. 5 position. He defeated Scott Geoffrion in round one, Ron Krisher in round two and Allen Johnson in round three before facing Warren Johnson in the finals. In the championship round, Coughlin's yellow and black Chevy Cavalier launched first with a .401 reaction time and closed with a winning 6.969 e.t. at 198.55 mph. Johnson's Pontiac Grand Am finished with a 6.929-second run at 199.23 mph. The margin of victory was .026 second.

It was Coughlin's 31st career victory and his eighth win in the last 11 races. His consecutive win streak ties a personal-best mark set previously during a four-race string from April 9-May 7, 2000.

"The performance advantage may have been slightly in the left lane today," said Coughlin. "We never really saw it. There's a little bit of transition at the top of fourth gear in the right lane, but nothing much to speak of because our Chevy Cavalier was able to drive right though it. When I saw that win light come on though, I was tickled. It's been such an awesome season and to be crowned the Pro Stock POWERade champion today is just phenomenal."

After winning round one of eliminations today against Geoffrion, Coughlin clinched his second NHRA Pro Stock title.

"Certainly we were a little bit more at ease after the first round," said Coughlin. "I was a little bit worked, but there were a lot of beans on the line. With the group I have behind me, I certainly didn't want to let them down at crunch time. When that round was behind us, we all felt a little bit better. Dad did a great job keeping everyone on an even keel, focussed on winning rounds and winning another race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"When we got down early in the season, we never gave up. The parity of the Pro Stock class this year has put a lot of pressure on every team out here, but our goal has always been to bring home a POWERade Pro Stock championship for GM, Chevrolet and everyone at Jeg's High Performance."

Warren Johnson was looking to win his second victory of the season. The GM Performance Parts Pontiac driver qualified his SC/T Grand Am in the No. 2 spot and defeated Tom Lee in round one, Tom Hammonds in round two and Greg Stanfield in round three before falling to Coughlin in the finals. It was Johnson's third final-round appearance of the season and the 137th of his career.

"Our 6.921 qualifying run corrected to the best run we've ever made," Johnson reported. "That indicates that either we've come up with more power or we're getting the car down the racetrack more efficiently. Whichever it is, we'll take it!

"We've been working hard, both the team at the race track and the guys at the shop, to find out where we were deficient in performance. It looks like we've found a direction to take. Now it's a matter of taking what we've learned here and building on it."

Team Chevrolet driver Larry Dixon won his ninth race of the year tying Gary Scelzi's 2000 effort for most victories by a Top Fuel driver in a single season. Dixon also clinched his first NHRA POWERade championship with his round-two win over Rhonda Hartman-Smith. He becomes only the third Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to lead the point standings the entire season.

"I'm still in shock a little bit," said Dixon. "When I saw that win-light come on in the second round, it was more relief than excitement. It's been a tough battle all year and I'm just glad we were able to nail the championship down before Pomona."

The next stop on the tour is the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals on Nov. 7 - 10 at Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

-chevrolet-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Rhonda Hartman-Smith , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , Tom Hammonds , Scott Geoffrion