Fresh off a victory at the prestigious U.S. Nationals — drag racing’s equivalent of the Daytona 500 — Coughlin’s seven victories is tops across the four professional classes. He’s held the point lead for 14 races, longer than anyone else in the sport, and his 47-11 race day record is unparalleled. Out of 145 pros on tour this year, Coughlin is the only one without a first-round loss. All this despite the fact his average starting spot each weekend is just sixth place.
“We come into Charlotte just wanting to keep up what we’ve been doing all year,” Coughlin said. “We’ve got a chance to kick off these six playoff races with a big weekend and we plan on doing everything we can to get another win.
“The JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt is running well and I’m pleased with how I’ve been driving this season. We’ve met as a team to discuss our strategy for this stretch run and now we need to go out and execute.”
Based in nearby Mooresville, N.C., Victor Cagnazzi Racing — Coughlin’s team — regularly uses zMax Dragway for testing, making it a familiar spot for the 61-time national event winner.
“It’s a track I’ve become extremely fond of,” Coughlin said. “We don’t test much but when we do it’s at zMax because it’s the home track for the guys at the shop. Although it’s a new track, it’s one I’ve been down several times and I’m very comfortable there.
“I really like Charlotte. It’s just a part of the country I enjoy. The rolling hills, lakes and rivers, and the beaches on the coast offers pretty much everything you’d ever need. With Victor having his shop there it’s become a bit of a second hometown for us.”
Having spent a lot of time in the heart of NASCAR country, Coughlin knows the fans in the area are as rabid as any in the country.
“There’s certainly lots of gearheads in town, which makes it really exciting,” Coughlin said. “The stands should be packed because these folks really appreciate high performance, lots of horsepower, and good, close racing. We should be able to deliver on all of those fronts.
“Naturally, being the hometown for Victor and all of the employees that work at the shop, we’ve got a nice, built-in fan base with all of the friends and family members that make it out to the strip. You always want to put your best foot forward when you have important guests in the pit. I’m really looking forward to getting started.”
Coughlin gave up a good portion of the point lead he had built when the standings were reset for the Countdown to 1. He now leads second-place Jason Line by just 30 points, with the rest of the top 10 trailing Line in 10-point increments. Fortunately for Coughlin, he’s won all of the titles since the NHRA went to a playoff system.