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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 17, 2004 – Brothers for life, racing teammates working toward a common goal. Chevrolet’s Jeg and Troy Coughlin are Pro Stock veterans who know the challenges of trying to maintain a competitive NHRA Pro Stock team, as well as the success and disappointments that go hand in hand in the sport.
The 39-year-old Troy Coughlin, a native of Columbus, Ohio, has been racing in Pro Stock since 1994. During the past 10 race seasons, the Chevy Cavalier driver has posted two national event victories, competed in 12 final rounds and captured three top-10 finishes. In 2000, Coughlin won the $50,000 NHRA All-Star Eliminator at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn.
Jeg Coughlin, Jr. is a two-time NHRA Pro Stock champion (2000, 2002), the winner of 33 national events and third all time behind Warren Johnson and Bob Glidden for most victories by a Pro Stock driver. Coughlin’s title in 2002 was Chevrolet’s first in Pro Stock since 1984, and was instrumental in giving the red bowtie brigade its 15th NHRA Manufacturer’s Cup. In addition to his two championships, the 33-year-old Coughlin has posted six consecutive top-five finishes and a pair of second-place showings in 1998-99.

What is it like being brothers and battling for the same championship?

Troy Coughlin: “Every time I go up to the starting line I want to win. And every time I see Jeg race, I want him to be successful. It’s a win-win situation from a family standpoint, and from a business perspective – I know there’s going to be another yellow and black Chevrolet advancing to the next round. But when we race in the semis or the finals, it’s a good time. Everything we do, we do it together. We work in the same building, work with the same customers, and since we do a little bit of everything, we just try to do the best we can.”

Jeg Coughlin: “We’re both capable of winning during any given race, but the main goal is to get those yellow and black Chevrolets to the next round. It’s hard to do, but that’s the goal. We all work together every day at the business, and we’re all very close to our father (Jeg Sr.), who has been the cornerstone of our motorsports program. The four brothers are all extremely close, but with our dad it’s really the five of us working together toward building a successful racing program. We’re very proud of the fact that we are so close and know how to stick together.”

On pre-season testing

Jeg Coughlin: “We tested during the last week of January in Bradenton (Fla.), Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and it worked out real well. We had an opportunity to run in a number of different air conditions from sub-sea-level to the average conditions we see most of the year. The best run our Chevy Cavalier made was a 6.69 at 205.66 mph, and the best run we made in the worst air was a 6.80. We felt pretty good about how the car ran and what we accomplished. Troy’s Cavalier went 6.71 at 205 mph. The conditions were pretty outstanding as you would imagine, very similar to what we experienced last May in Englishtown (N.J.). We weren’t doing cartwheels by any stretch of the imagination, but we were excited. In my case we have a brand-new Jerry Bickel double frame-rail Chevrolet, a brand new engine, brand-new carburetors, new ignition systems, new team members and the new wheel-tire combination.”

Do you feel you’re getting a handle on the new wheel-tire combination?

Troy Coughlin: “We’re definitely getting closer to where we need to be and one or two more test sessions should put us in pretty good shape. Right now we’re trying to control the wheel speed and making sure the car is going straight. By Pomona we’ll definitely have it figured out.”

Jeg Coughlin: “There are several great tire manufacturers who will be producing the new tire and at this point the Goodyear 2055 that they announced last year appears to be the front runner. We had such varying conditions when we tested in January that our weaknesses showed up pretty quick and we were able to learn from that. It’s a big change, without question. Pro Stock has been running on a tire diameter that has varied from 100 inches to 102 inches since the start of my career, and we’ve used two different tire models at Goodyear in that span. It’s just another example of the evolution of the sport. We like the safety consideration that went into the decision and we feel it’s a positive move by the NHRA. It’s not just the hazard of the tire coming off the rim that you have to think about, but the increased stability of the racecar going down the track at 205 mph.”

Troy Coughlin: “It’s a natural progression of the sport. We’ll rework the car to get it to go faster, but now you can get eight or nine inches out of the groove and still finish the run. Last year if you got eight inches out of the groove that would have been an aborted run. Watch the Pro Mod Cars. They’ll get out of shape, get out of the groove and yet they still make their run. That’s what these new tires allow us to do. At first we might lose three hundredths from the run, but we’re going to get data from start to finish, and in the long run, that’s really important to us.”

What other pre-season preparation is taking place on the Jeg’s team to get ready for 2004?

Jeg Coughlin: “We started aggressively preparing for 2004 right after last year’s ACDelco Nationals. We had a couple of good game plans for the engine development program, and had my brand-new 2004 Chevy Cavalier ready to go – it had actually been sitting since the U.S. Nationals. The rain delays and postponements dug into the time we needed to get the car race-ready. The research and development of our program has gone well, the new car looks really strong and I think that’s going to be a key to how well we do this season. We also put our new Chevrolet in the wind tunnel in North Carolina and it was nice to see the numbers that came up there. Our new Cavalier has excellent front-to-rear balance and we gained some data that will come in handy with the different conditions we’ll face this year. We’ve had a busy winter and the truth will tell when we get to Pomona.”

Troy Coughlin: “I’ll also be running a new Jerry Bickel, 2004 Chevy Cavalier that should be ready by the middle of April, at least we should have sufficient data at that point. We’ve inventoried everything, assessed what we have, replaced the pieces that were worn out and brought in fresh new parts including tires, transmissions, wiring, computers, just everything that we’ll need to get us through the demands of a 23-race schedule. The longer offseason has given us more time to adjust to the new wheel-tire combination. We’ve been able to come up with a number of different gameplans so that when we do test, we have a thorough list of things we want to try working to find the right combination.”

How was the Jeg’s mail-order business in 2003?

Troy Coughlin: “We had a pretty good year in 2003. Between the internet, phone and retail sales, we finished up pretty strong. The success we have on the racetrack along with some of the other programs we’re involved in, contribute to the growth of the company. It’s been fun doing the Jeg’s All Stars, along with the different contingency programs that Jeg’s is a part of. The people who work for us at our main headquarters and in outlying outlets are just as excited as we are when we win. We’ll get back from a race and be bombarded with questions on what happened, what we did and how well we ran. The racing and the business go hand-in-hand and we’re fortunate to be a part of both. Because of the 24/7 availability of Jeg’s Mail Order, now when we win on Sunday we sell on Sunday, and you really can’t put a price tag on the reach of our racing program.”

Jeg Coughlin: “And I think the whole television package has been instrumental in supporting our efforts on the track. In addition to NHRA’s ESPN coverage, we’ve been involved with some of the Monster Garage programs and Horsepower TV. We’ve been able to create a lot of awareness about Jeg’s. We have something for everybody, whether you’re driving a car to and from work every day, or you’re wanting to spice it up and take it to your local dragstrip or car show. If your passion is motorsports we’ve got something for you.”

Reflecting on 2003

Jeg Coughlin: “We weren’t disappointed. We would’ve liked the first few races to have gone differently, but you can’t hit rewind in this sport. We buckled down, went out there and raced the best we could with what we had and ended up on the winning side quite a few times. We switched attitudes a couple of races into the season and that was a boost. We found some horsepower going through the summer months and that helped pick up the performance of our Cavalier as well. We started out the year, arguably four or five hundredths slower than the quickest car and by the end of the year we were running within a hundredth. The season was highlighted by a big win for us at Sonoma, which was the last track Team Jeg’s had to win on. In the post season after the awards ceremony, we hit the Moroso five-day bracket series event where we ran our Chevy-powered dragster in Palm Beach, Fla. It’s a pretty tough event. During the season we had 41 round wins over the course of 23 races and in just five races in five days at Moroso, we won 38 rounds. It’s a completely different type of racing and it’s highly competitive. It takes nine rounds to win one single day so there’s 45 rounds total. It’s an incredibly prestigious event and the premier event for bracket racers. It’s great to go down and race with friends we’ve competed against for 20 years, have a beer with them and maybe do a little bench racing as well. The best of the best from all over the country go to West Palm, and to get on a strong run like we did, and set the overall points record was really something. The competition makes it pretty intense but it was a lot of fun.”

Troy Coughlin: “That’s a really neat race and I went down there this year for a day just to see it. You have to be .511 or better on the tree every round just to survive, and then you need a little extra to win. But just to see it, like Jeg said, I don’t think he bracket raced all year and then he won the whole thing. John and Mike (brothers) also raced and everyone did great. As for the race season, we were on cloud nine when the car was running well. We were runner-up in Phoenix but went through kind of a dry spell and some personnel problems. During the last 10 races, we got everything ironed out, got back into the groove of things and fixed some stuff on the car that Jeggie and my dad helped me set up. We worked with each other a lot closer than we ever have. That’s why I think my car did as well as it did. I had more fun racing the last 10 races of 2003 than I have in the last couple of years. We qualified strong, won some rounds and learned from our mistakes, which we were able to narrow down to just a few. To see the win light come on and going two or three rounds a race has really made it a lot more fun. With our new Chevy Cavalier coming in April, we think that momentum will roll over into 2004. The two-car concept is working for us better than it ever has.”

Are you looking forward to the start of the new season?

Jeg Coughlin: “I was telling one of the guys in the R & D shop just how much I was looking forward to going again. You enjoy the time at home, but you never stop asking yourself if you’ll have the drive and the desire to get in these machines and compete at a championship caliber level. Are we going to have the cars, the power, the people and the minds to win a POWERade championship? Once you get in the car, make that first run and go through the gears, it’s just like being home again. I haven’t been this excited in several years.”

Troy Coughlin: “With the way we performed during the last nine or 10 races of the season last year, I couldn’t be more excited about 2004. It’s definitely going to be a good year for Team Jeg’s.”

Will the Pro Stock class be as tough this year as in years past?

Jeg Coughlin: “I would say so although the potential is still there for someone to get hot again and run away with it. If you get into the right groove and get everybody on the team in the right mindset, things can go your way. But likewise, things can go the other way as well for someone else. I think it’s going to be a good year though. The mix up with the new tire rules could shake up things here and there for a couple of races, but I really feel like we’ll be prepared for those opportunities if they arise. It’s going to be an exciting year and our goals are set high. Winning a number of races and the championship is just a short list of our goals.”

Troy Coughlin: “I think the class will be as tough if not tougher than it was last year. With the new tires the cars have flat-out more traction. You’ll see fewer aborted runs and cars getting down the track at places that don’t have as good of traction. I think it’s going to make the class that much closer. If everyone can figure out the setups for the new tires, and as we continue to make more power, the performance of the Pro Stock cars will continue to improve making the class just as exciting this year as it’s ever been.”

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