RICHMOND, Va. (Oct.11) — Reigning back-to-back Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. suffered his third first-round loss of the last four races to all but extinguish his hopes for a championship “three-peat” Sunday at Virginia Motorsports Park.
Racing from the No. 12 qualifying position in his Chevrolet Cobalt, Coughlin put on a great race against first-round foe Greg Stanfield, who he’d beaten four times this year. This time, the odds finally caught up with Coughlin and he lost with a 6.569 at 210.83 mph to Stanfield’s marginally better 6.562 at 210.34 mph.
The race was close all the way down the track, and Coughlin was actually gaining ground towards the end of the quarter-mile, but a swerving start had knocked enough steam out of his car to give the win to Stanfield.
“These last four races have been so uncharacteristic for this team,” Coughlin said. “We go through the regular season without a first-round loss, we win seven races, eight if you include the K&N Challenge, and we lead the points for 14 events…we couldn’t have asked for more. But then the Countdown to 1 started and we just shot ourselves in the foot.
“We’ve struggled to get the car figured out and when you have hiccups like that in this class, you’re toast. It’s very tough because ever since the NHRA went to a playoff deal, we’ve been the team to turn it on and excel. This year, all the teams that had their struggles in the regular season are now running great and we’ve fallen off.
“We’ll just race out the year and try to win the last two events. I have all the confidence in the world in this team. We’re the same group that won the last two championships. It just wasn’t meant to be for us this year.”
The tour now has two weekends off before the ninth annual Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, which run from Oct. 29-Nov. 1 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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