POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 10) — Reigning NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. came within two-thousandths of a second of a perfect start to his title defense, accepting runner-up honors at the season-opening Winternationals Sunday evening behind fellow three-time Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson.

“We’re very happy with our performance and to roll out of Pomona No. 2 in the points is a real credit to this Victor Cagnazzi Racing organization,” Coughlin said. “My congratulations to Greg Anderson. They had the best car today. The good news is we were within a whisker of them throughout the weekend so we’re very pleased.”

Just as he did three months ago when he clinched his fourth overall world title, Coughlin displayed some brilliant driving on the way to his 61st career final round. After dismissing Ron Krisher by a wide margin in the opening round, he overcame the apparent disadvantage of racing in the right-hand lane and still beat Justin Humphreys and Kurt Johnson with flawless runs in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt.

Perhaps his best race of the weekend came against his good friend Johnson, who actually had the quicker car — his 6.651 at 208.01 mph was better than Coughlin’s 6.666 at 207.46 mph — but Coughlin’s .024-second reaction time to K.J.’s .050-second start resulted in Coughlin taking the win on a holeshot.

In the final, Coughlin cut another great light but Anderson was just two-thousandths of a second slower. The two stayed close all the way down the track with Anderson finally inching away to win with a 6.616 at 209.23 mph to Coughlin’s 6.638 at 208.42 mph. The final margin of victory was .02 seconds.

“I think we saw this weekend that there are several players in the game once again this year,” Coughlin said. “Obviously, Greg did his homework, and that’s a two-car team. Kurt and his dad Warren look strong. Allen Johnson is right there, so is Greg Stanfield, and Justin. It’s gonna be a dogfight every weekend.

“The key for us, just as it was a year ago, is to keep this JEGS.com car as consistent as possible. We always strive to be at the top of the performance sheets each round and we were there al weekend so that’s encouraging.

“It’ll be great if we can get a sponsor for my teammate, Dave Connolly, so we can have him back out here. The benefits of a strong two-car team were very evident to me last year so we need to get him on track as soon as possible.”

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