Coughlin vying for 'King' status in Memphis MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 20-22): Memphis Motorsports Park, the site of this weekend's 17th annual Mid-South NHRA Nationals, is the track where 12-time champion John Force famously exclaimed he "saw...
Coughlin vying for 'King' status in Memphis
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Aug. 20-22): Memphis Motorsports Park, the site of this weekend's 17th annual Mid-South NHRA Nationals, is the track where 12-time champion John Force famously exclaimed he "saw Elvis at 1,000 feet" as he slid backwards down the racetrack on fire after a massive engine explosion ruined his hot rod.
Although three-time NHRA champion Jeg Coughlin's experiences at this facility aren't quite as spectacular, the sport's most prolific Pro Stock racer of all-time, who has found a way to win a remarkable 72 percent of his elimination day races, has a love affair with Memphis that would rival the "King's" passion for his hometown.
Coughlin's first taste of Memphis magic came in 2000 when the 34-year-old put the finishing touches on one of the most dominating years in Pro Stock history by clinching the POWERade championship with a final-round victory over Scott Geoffrion. It was Coughlin's 10th victory of the year and, coupled with brother Mike's big win in Pro Stock Truck, one of the most memorable of his career, which includes 45 national event wins.
"We've been fortunate to have found success almost everywhere we go on tour," Jeg said. "But without question Memphis is very special to me. That win in 2000 clinched the title for us, which ended two years of finishing runner-up to the championship, and the fact Mikey won and joined me in the winner's circle made it a race I will never forget."
In 2002, Jeg was at it again, winning his fifth event in eight races down the stretch to pull within 12 points of the POWERade points lead. His Memphis victory that year over Gene Wilson inspired the Jeg's Mail Order driver to win three more races in the final four events, which ultimately helped him lock up his second Pro Stock world title.
In between his impressive wins at Memphis Motorsports Park, Jeg cheered on his brother Troy, who bagged more glory for Team Jeg's with a win over Tom Martino during the 2001 running of the race.
"It must be that spicy Memphis bar-be-que that gets us Coughlin boys fired up," Jeg said.
Last year, it was more dominance by the Coughlin clan, with Jeg setting a track record for elapsed time in the class with a powerful 6.748-second blast, which earned him No. 1 qualifier status. He finished that race as runner-up to eventual series champ Greg Anderson, who nipped Jeg by just five-thousandths of a second at the stripe.
"Memphis is a really, really good racetrack and the fact we're racing a night schedule this time through should only help the performance," Jeg said. "We have some room for improvement from what we did a few days ago in Brainerd [Minn.] We want to see some more consistency and repeatability from our Chevrolet and we'll be right in the mix.
"I'd love to see Elvis myself, but not at 1,000 feet. Memphis has a very narrow groove, especially downtrack, so you don't want to be looking around down there or you'll get yourself in trouble real quick. I think I'd rather see the King in the winner's circle."