RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 6) — At the halfway point of the Countdown to 1 playoff, reigning back-to-back Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. finds himself in fourth place in a tightly bunched group of title contenders.
After leading the regular season with an NHRA-best seven victories and 14 national events atop the Full Throttle standings, Coughlin admits he’s been in better shape in the past than he is now, but the 39-year-old five-time world champ says he’ll never give up.
“We’ve actually been further behind the leader than we are at the present time and we’ve been able to come out on the good side so all is not lost,” Coughlin said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard racing for us and some good fortune from some of our competitors to resurrect our title hopes, but it isn’t over yet by a long shot.
“We’re only halfway through the playoffs. Whatever happened in the first three races can be reversed in the next three. We just have to stay after it.”
Coughlin currently trails Mike Edwards by 114 points, or about five and a half rounds of race day action. He’s 36 points behind second-place Jason Line, and 33 back of third-place Greg Anderson. The good news of having those three heavyweights in front of him? He’s beaten Edwards and Line six times each this year, the most wins versus anyone he’s faced. He also has four wins against Anderson.
“The best case scenario for us is to get the top guys early in the race so we can control our own destiny,” Coughlin said. “I know we haven’t shown it much this year, but we’ve also got a car capable of challenging for a national record. If we could pull that off it would be worth 20 points right there.
“The neat thing about Richmond at this time of year is that we’re going to see conditions very similar to what we had in Memphis, and several people were knocking on the door of a national record there. For the Pro Stock cars, good atmospheric conditions can mean record setting times, and we’ll be right a sea level at Virginia Motorsports Park. If the barometer is extremely favorable, we can go really quick. That’s fun for a driver.”
Coughlin and his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt teammates will arrive in town with some pleasant memories of VMP. Last year, Coughlin raced all the way to the finals before losing to teammate Dave Connolly. In 2000, he won the race outright, a favorite memory for the 61-time national event winner.
“I’m always excited when we go to the East Coast because the fans there really dig Pro Stock racing,” Coughlin said. “Virginia is no exception. They love us being there and we love racing in Richmond.”
Qualifying begins Friday with two sessions.