DINWIDDIE, Va. (May 13) — The Pro Stock category has taken a six-week break from the regular Mello Yello Drag Racing Series but that hasn't dampened the spirit of five-time class champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., who is anxious to get back in the seat of his JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro at this weekend's second annual Virginia NHRA Nationals.
"Personally, I'm enjoying the reduced commitment of time with the new 18-race schedule for Pro Stock for a variety of reasons but it will be great to be back with my teammates at Elite Motorsports this weekend," Coughlin said. "It's definitely time to get back after it and resume the fight.
"I have kept up with my teammates racing in Pro Mod, and that's been exciting, and I'm also fired up to hear about the progress the guys have made with the Pro Stock engine program during this little break. It's certainly been different to be in the middle of the season and then take six weeks off, but we're all getting used to it together."
The NHRA elected to reduce the schedule from 24 to 18 races for both fiduciary reasons and to allow smaller teams to stay involved, thereby maintaining competitive car counts.
"It's been a bit odd and some of my buddies in the nitro categories have mentioned how strange it is for them to race with no Pro Stock cars around," Coughlin said, "but I've actually had some gaps in my career where I've taken entire seasons off, or the majority of a season off, so I've had a small taste of this before."
To stay sharp and have a little fun since the last Pro Stock race, which took place the first weekend in April in Las Vegas, Coughlin competed in the Spring Fling high-dollar bracket race in North Carolina.
"I've said throughout my driving career that bracket racing is the pinnacle of this sport," Coughlin said. "Running full 24-race schedules, I hadn't had a chance to participate in any bracket races in the last three years so it was a ton of fun to get my Chevy II wagon and my dragster back on track. Without question, it sharpens your skills for driving Pro Stock car. It's 180 degrees of difference in driving styles, but the competitive nature is the same.
"My wife Samantha also participated in the Spring Fling and anytime we can race together it's a special bonus. She'll actually be with me again this weekend at Virginia Motorsports Park and her car's running killer so she's excited and ready to race as well."