POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 1) — At just 38 years of age, Jeg Coughlin Jr. already has experienced lots of things during his drag racing career. Even so, this year’s season-opening 49th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals marks something new for the five-time world champ — the beginning of a quest to win three straight NHRA titles.

In addition to his Super Gas crown in 1992, Coughlin has won four of the last nine Pro Stock championships, including back-to-back titles in 2007-2008. (He also won titles in 2000 and 2002). That places the 54-time national event winner in position to become just the fourth Pro Stock racer in history to capture three championships in a row, alongside Greg Anderson, Bob Glidden, and Lee Shepherd. Across all four pro categories, only 12 racers have pulled off a championship three-peat.

“It’s certainly something that’s going to drive us this year,” Coughlin said. “It makes this season opener one of the most exciting I can remember. We’ve already seen the reaction from the fans that think it’s pretty neat that we were able to win two in a row, and we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished. To get three would be something.

“As we all know, what you’ve done in the past means nothing when a new season starts and that’s why we’ve set out a very aggressive gameplan for 2009. We’re the only car coming out of Victor Cagnazzi Racing, at least for now, so we have the full attention of everyone there. To a man, they all want us to dominate this year and run the table — winning as many races as we can, keeping this JEGS.com Chevy in first place, and winning the championship once again.”

Pomona is certainly a great place for Coughlin to start another championship season. He’s won six of his 41 Pro Stock trophies at the historic southern California racetrack, taking the hardware in 2007, 2005, 2001, 2000, and twice in 1999.

“It’s always been a favorite stop for me,” Coughlin said, “and the Winternationals is always fun because you see all the new teams, new paint schemes, and this year a new title sponsor for our series in Full Throttle. It’s just a fresh start for everyone and there’s so much excitement in the air.

“Being that we’re in Los Angeles, you also get some of the most knowledgeable drag racing fans in the world, and you get fans visiting town and coming out to the races from all over the world. I really like the way you come down the return road in front of the stands because the fans are right there cheering us on. That’s so cool. I’m getting fired up just thinking about it.

“I really think we’re as prepared as we can be to start the year. I know the same big hitters will be doing everything they can to take us down. It’s our job to rise to the occasion and answer the challenge. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”

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