Sunday was a big day for five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. as he claimed his second career Super Comp victory to give the Coughlin family its 92nd NHRA national event victory overall.
“As a family, we’ve been very blessed,” Coughlin said. “We’ve had a phenomenal run in NHRA competition: winning races, winning championships, winning divisional races. I suppose if this were our last one, we’d all be extremely happy, but I sure hope we’re not done yet.”
It’s the latest notch in a racing resume that now includes 68 National Event wins – 16 of which have come in the Sportsman ranks. He remains the only driver in NHRA history to win in six different NHRA classes.
And to think Coughlin came close to not even racing in the event, because if his wife Samantha was able to get a late entry into the race, he was planning on pulling out and letting her drive the JEGS.com dragster.
“We were hoping Samantha would be able to get an entry early in the week,” Coughlin said. “We brought her car out, but it’s a twin to the car I run back home. We use an ISP Pour In seat in the car, so when she didn’t get in we swapped my seat in and it felt exactly like my car.
“I’ve worked so much on this car with her and it’s just a phenomenal, predictable car.”
Coughlin said that after getting a scare early in eliminations, he buckled down and took advantage of the breaks that came his way.
“I had kind of a wakeup call in the second round,” Coughlin said. “I had a poor reaction time. I told myself, ‘If you are ever going to get away with one, this is it. That’s the only attention getter you are going to get.’
“I had a really good run going down the stretch from there and that’s what it took to win.”
The day included a bye run in the semifinals when Bob Woodruff couldn’t make the call after suffering a breakage in his previous round win. That pitted Coughlin against Michael Miller for the trophy.
“I had some good breaks and that was one of them,” Coughlin said. “We actually had two bye runs late in the game and had it dialed in for the final. When I let go of the button in the final, it felt really good.”
Racing on a 9.05 second index, Coughlin got a .011 second reaction time to Miller’s .032 second launch in the money round. Coughlin crossed the line in 9.060 seconds at 163.28 mph, while Miller broke out with a 9.030 at 178.42 mph.
In the opening round of Pro Stock on Sunday, Coughlin and the JEGS/Mopar Dodge Avenger had as solid of a run as they’ve made all year, but he suffered a rare holeshot loss to Vincent Nobile.
“We made improvements today,” Coughlin said. “Our goal was to make the car a little more efficient down low, and it was. It shook pretty hard between the bottom of second gear and all the way through third gear. That was enough to lose.”
Despite the hiccup downtrack, Coughlin ran a quicker ET than Nobile – a 6.674 at 206.13 mph to Noblie’s 6.676 at 206.86 mph. Coughlin also recorded a second quickest reaction time of the round (a .012), but the quickest (a .002) came from Nobile and was the ultimate difference in the race.
“When you drive a yellow and black car as long as I have, that’s the name of the game,” Coughlin said. “If you don’t get off the line first you are taking a risk, because everyone is gunning for you. Vincent did a good job and got the win light.”
The Team JEGS guys are already have a plan of attack before the next race rolls around.
“We’ve got some work to do over the coming week,” Coughlin said. “We’ll focus a little more on the car setup as it’s coming around. We’ll also take a look at the engine setup and try to find that 1 or 2 mph that we’re lagging behind the lead pack guys right now.
“We know it’s not going to come overnight, so we’re going to work hard until it is right.”
Up next for Coughlin and Team JEGS is the April 13-15 NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at Charlotte, N.C.