Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin knows his Jeg’s Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T is a great racecar. Earlier this year he powered his way to the final four in Phoenix only to lose by one-thousandths of a second to the eventual race winner. At the last two events, Coughlin has qualified a lofty fourth on the elimination ladder. He also watched his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Richie Stevens drive his identical Stratus to a runner-up finish at the Bristol event. All the pieces, it would appear, are in place.

But the respected young veteran with three NHRA championships and 45 national event wins to his credit knows that in drag racing the only thing that ultimately matters is whether you win or lose. So with his eyes firmly set on the trophy, Coughlin enters this weekend’s 25th annual NHRA Southern Nationals with a clearly defined goal.

“It’s time to win,” he said. “Our car is running great and now that Richie has his new car, which is truly a twin of mine, we have the ability to benefit greatly from twice as much data. We are truly a two-car team now. Our crew chief, Bob Glidden, has both cars running at the top of the charts and the two crews are working extremely well together.

“When I say it’s time for us to win, I say it with conviction because I see how this team has come together in such a short amount of time. Bob said at the start of the year it would take us a few races to get up to speed. I think we’ve paid our dues.”

Coughlin is no stranger to Atlanta Dragway’s winner’s circle, having taken the top prize there in 2000 in a great race against Bruce Allen. The win helped lift Coughlin to one of his two Pro Stock world titles. At the same time, he knows the track he traversed in Y2K is a thing of the past as the racing surface was completely redone in the last two years.

“Atlanta is always a bit of a tuner’s race because we go there just as spring is turning to summer so you’re never quite sure what the weather will be like,” Coughlin said. “It oftentimes changes over the course of the weekend. The new track is very smooth and it gets better the more time that goes by. I think it’ll play well for us.”

Racing begins at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Friday with two scheduled qualifying sessions.


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