Our focus surrounding the best starting line racers in the business shifts to Pro Stock and it will probably come as no surprise that three-time NHRA champion Jeg Coughlin is the leader of the pack. In 42 elimination-round races this season, Coughlin left on his opponent 29 times for a class-leading 69-percent leave-first record. The 46-time national event winner has extensive experience in just about every category contested in the NHRA and was the first driver in history to win four categories in one season (Pro Stock, Super Stock, Competition Eliminator and Super Gas) in 1997.

Close behind Coughlin is Greg Stanfield, who quietly had a stellar year Bart Price’s hot rod, finishing seventh overall in the POWERade points. A lot of that can be credited to Stanfield’s impressive 27.5-12.5 (68 percent) record of leaving on his rivals.

There’s a bit of a drop after Coughlin and Stanfield, with only three other racers posting better than .500 records at the Christmas Tree. Dave Connolly fought of his many distractions and went 29.5-18.5 (61 percent) at the line. Jason Line was a respectable 33-25 (56 percent), while Allen Johnson logged a 17-14 (54 percent) mark.

Others in the top 10 include Jim Yates (17-17, 50 percent), Kurt Johnson (30.5-32.5, 48 percent), Erica Enders (10-11, 47 percent), six-time champ Warren Johnson (24.5-29.5, 45 percent), and reigning three-time champ Greg Anderson (30-37, 44 percent). Of course, Greg’s car was so fast he didn’t have much trouble catching and passing people.

Is it just me or does it seem weird that the best leavers in the top three Pro categories — John Smith, Jeff Arend, and Jeg Coughlin — are all probably going to be on the sidelines in 2006?

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