SONOMA, Calif. (July 27) — Defending race champion Jeg Coughlin and his teammate/brother Troy Coughlin return to picturesque Infineon Raceway with two distinct goals in mind. For Jeg, a three-time NHRA series champion, a repeat of his 2003 heroics would make for a perfect weekend in California’s Wine Country, while Troy will modestly search for any reason to pop the cork on a bottle of the local product.

Jeg is quick to admit that last year’s victory was his finest moment of the ’03 season. In one of the closest finals of the year, the sport’s third most prolific Pro Stock winner took out eventual series champion Greg Anderson with a gigantic .019- to .070-second reaction time advantage, which negated Anderson’s quicker 6.79-second quarter-mile pass. The stunning 6.83-second win sparked a huge second-half surge for the Jeg’s Mail Order race team and solidified Jeg’s third-place ranking in the POWERade points.

“That win was special for a lot of reasons,” said Jeg, 34, who is currently sixth in the title chase. “First of all, any win at this level is an accomplishment. Secondly, we beat Greg in the final. Third, Team Jeg’s had never won at that racetrack. It also showed we were on to something with our program and that turned out to ring true because, aside from Greg, no one earned more points down the stretch then we did.”

After winning an NHRA national event, a feat both Coughlin brothers have accomplished, anything less than another Wally trophy seems like a letdown. But Jeg and Troy both know past accomplishments mean little when they pull into a new track.

“This sport can be the most aggravating thing you could ever imagine,” said Troy, 40, an 11-year veteran of the class most consider the toughest in all of motorsports. “But the challenge it presents each weekend makes the good moments so special.

“We’ve certainly wanted more from our Jeg’s Mail Order Cavalier this year, but if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that you have more down times then good times. There’s only one happy guy at the end of each race. So what you have to do is find a way to stay motivated. For us, trying to figure out the right calls keeps us going. We know our team has the pieces in place to win it all. The trick is stirring in the proper ingredients.”

Jeg, the 2000 and 2002 Pro Stock champion, knows exactly what his brother means.

“I can think of eight races right off the top of my head where we’ve lost by less than a hundredth of a second,” he said. “It’s almost impossible to measure at times. Sure it’s frustrating, but it reminds us you need to take it all in when you do win a race.

“This would be a great weekend for Team Jeg’s to reacquaint ourselves with those feelings. I know we have 25-30 more horsepower then we did a year ago so we’re optimistic. Certainly, we’ll enjoy ourselves tremendously if we can punch one through.”

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