ATLANTA (May 12) — Coming off his best outing of the 2014 NHRA drag racing season, defending world champion Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. is anxious to resume his title defense this weekend at Atlanta Dragway.
Coughlin's semifinal finish a fortnight ago in Houston lifted him and his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart team to seventh in the rankings. He's still not where he wants to be, but Coughlin knows having one of the quickest and fastest cars in the category always gives him a chance to contend.
"We're in great shape and I think Houston once again proved that," said Coughlin, who already set both ends of his career-best marks this year in addition to being top qualifier in Las Vegas. "When you've got that No. 1 on your car, you know that every round the driver in the other lane is going to give you their very best. We've had some very close races every round this year and so far the scale hasn't tipped our way.
"There's no need for change. We'll just keep doing what we do and things will fall our way. Pro Stock is about thousandths of a second and we're all dancing on that razor's edge. There's not a big distance between winning and losing."
Atlanta has been good to Coughlin in the past. Two of his 56 national event victories came at the 38-year-old facility, with wins logged in 2000 and 2010. The five-time Pro Stock world champion also reached the final round there in 2009 before settling for runner-up honors.
"Atlanta is a really smooth track with some awesome fans lining both sides of the strip from one end to the other," Coughlin said. "It can be very fast, especially since they re-surfaced the track a few years past. A lot depends on the weather. It seems we're always keeping an eye on the weather radar when we visit Georgia this time of the year. I don't expect this weekend to be any different."
Adding to his level of confidence in the Peach State, Coughlin will be racing alongside older brother Troy Coughlin, who is scheduled to compete in Pro Mod. Troy Coughlin was the 2012 Pro Mod champion.
"Brother Troy has supported me for as long as I can remember and I love nothing more than watching him race that wild car of his," Coughlin said. "Some of my proudest moments in racing have come from watching him win races and championships. We love to race together any chance we get. It's like we're kids again."
Before the event starts, on Thursday evening at Coca-Cola Headquarters, Coughlin will take part in the annual Partnership Dinner, saluting all pro champions in the Coca-Cola era of sponsorship, which dates back to 2002.
Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:15 and 6:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:30 and 3:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry qualifying highlights from 6-8 p.m., Saturday, and elimination action from 9-12 p.m., Sunday.