TOPEKA, Kan. (May 27) — In 220 professional starts, reigning NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. has failed to qualify for eliminations on just 13 occasions, or a nominal six percent of the time. The superstar racer is much more likely to reach the final round (28 percent chance) or win the race outright (18 percent) than anything else.

Nevertheless, Coughlin missed the NHRA’s last stop in Bristol, Tenn., by .003 seconds, ending an incredible streak of 70 consecutive starts that dated all the way back to the 2004 national event at Heartland Park Topeka.

“It stings, but it happens; it’s part of drag racing,” Coughlin said flatly.

No one is immune. The most prolific racer of all-time, John Force, extinguished a record run of 395 races at last year’s Vegas event. Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson had 303 successive starts before stumbling in San Francisco in 2002. Joe Amato had the longest streak in Top Fuel ended in 1995 after 191 successful outings.

The key is how the driver and team react to the misstep. In the case of Force, Johnson, and Amato, their unlikely DNQs sparked a renewed string of triumphs.

“This is the first DNQ we’ve had as a team here at Victor Cagnazzi Racing,” Coughlin said. “I’m not concerned in the slightest bit that we won’t come together and rebound better than ever. I was down at the shop in Charlotte and everyone was fired up. It was an anomaly, plain and simple, and I expect we’ll be right back at the top of the charts in Topeka.”

A two-time winner at HPT, Coughlin dodged a bullet in Bristol when the other three racers fighting for the top spot in the POWERade points all had lackluster days.

“We entered Bristol a round off the lead and we left town just a round and a half back, so we’re talking about a half a round of racing,” Coughlin said. “Thankfully, we have 18 races to make the Countdown to the Championship so one race doesn’t make or break your season at this point on the schedule.

“The bottom line is this team is built of champions. We have a new motor, we have a wealth of knowledge and information on this car and this racetrack, and we have a very determined group of mechanics that want to put this behind us and get the points lead back. That’s what we plan to do.”

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