LAS VEGAS (April 17) — The number 50 holds a special significance for Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. this season. Coughlin and his three brothers are enjoying a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of JEGS High Performance, the company their father Jeg Sr. started in a little speed shop in downtown Columbus back in 1960.
JEGS is giving away a brand new Chevrolet Camaro to commemorate the occasion and all of the race team’s hot rods are branded with special “50th Anniversary” decals. The number is so prevalent this year that Jeg Jr. even asked retired racer Bruce Allen if he could borrow his longtime competition number for the season. (Allen said yes, and so Coughlin’s Chevrolet Cobalt is registered as No. 50.)
Knowing the facts, it’s pretty easy to see why Coughlin is so fired up about winning Sunday’s trophy at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With his victory last weekend in Houston, the four-time Pro Stock champ is at 49 wins and counting.
“I’m really not the type to put pressure on myself or the guys for something like this but obviously 50 is a milestone number,” Coughlin said. “There’s no pressure because we actually have 62 national event wins if you add in the Sportsman races we’ve won so we’re just going to let it come to us. If we do what we’re capable of doing, the 50th win will come.”
Coughlin has reason to be optimistic about winning this event. He’s the defending titlist of the race and has a total of five victories at this facility, making it one of his favorites. Add in the chance to win No. 50 and the normally laidback pro appears downright giddy.
“We spent qualifying trying to get the car happy in the first four or five feet of the track,” Coughlin said. “If we can get it to accelerate there, the rest will be history. We’re running the back half extremely strong and our speed has been around No. 2 all weekend. It’s all there; we just need to skin the cat a little differently.”
After qualifying 10th with a 6.751 at 205.51 mph, Coughlin will open eliminations against Bob Yonke, who qualified seventh with a 6.745 at 204.57 mph. The two have raced one another in the first round of the last three national events with Coughlin taking the win each time.
“Typically 10th is not a bad spot,” he said. “It’s about the same as being second or third. We’ve proved several times over we can win from the high side of the ladder. It’s going have to be that way here because we didn’t qualify well.”
Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. PST with Pro Stock slated for a noon start.
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