Former track record-older, winner, ready for more heroics In 2001, defending series champion Jeg Coughlin flew down historic Maple Grove Raceway in 6.750 seconds during a Round 1 victory over V. Gaines to set a national elapsed time record in...
Former track record-older, winner, ready for more heroics
In 2001, defending series champion Jeg Coughlin flew down historic Maple Grove Raceway in 6.750 seconds during a Round 1 victory over V. Gaines to set a national elapsed time record in Pro Stock. At the time it was the quickest quarter-mile pass in history posted by a car using gasoline and carburetors.
Just four years later, as the POWERade Drag Racing Series heads back to Eastern Pennsylvania for the 21st annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, Coughlin isn't even sure if a 6.750 would make the 16-car field. Such is life in the high-speed world of professional drag racing.
The truth is the 45-time tour winner isn't too far off. A quick glance at last year's qualifying sheet from Reading proves that a 6.750 would have placed a racer 15th overall, not exactly the best position from which to start race day.
"If you're not making big gains every year in this class, you'll find yourself slipping backwards very quickly," Coughlin said. "It's definitely one of the toughest categories in all of racing. That's what makes it so rewarding when you win. At the same time, every race is so close that losing by an inch or two becomes commonplace."
Coughlin is a two-time winner in Reading, having won the Super Gas title in 1996 and the Pro Stock trophy in '99. So far in 2005 he hasn't found the winner's circle in his Don Schumacher-owned Jeg's Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T. He's hoping to change that statistic this weekend at a track he knows very well.
"A nice outing would be very rewarding for all the loyal Jeg's fans out there," Coughlin said. "I've been going to Reading for as long as I've been racing. It was one of the tracks I could drive to, race at, and still make it home in time for school Monday morning. I love it there and I love the fans. They know drag racing, especially Pro Stock.
"We've had my teammate Richie Stevens staying with us and we've been doing a lot of talking about drag racing and what we love about the sport. It's reminded me of what we're out here for. Richie lost his house and his shop to Hurricane Katrina but he's still focused on drag racing. It's inspiring, and the fact he went to the finals in Indy in a racecar that's a clone of mine is encouraging.
"I also have some old friends coming down from New York for the weekend and I know they won't cut me any slack. They're gonna wanna see this Jeg's Dodge going rounds on Sunday so I better not disappoint them. We'll be ready."