HOUSTON (March 23) — The mood of a drag racer can change drastically in the six seconds it takes to get down the quarter-mile in a 1,350 horsepower hot rod. Back-to-back and reigning Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. already has experienced an extreme high this year with a big victory in Phoenix, but he also has been frustrated, as he was after a second-round exit at the last stop in Gainesville, Fla.

But you don’t become one of the best straight-line racers in the world and amass five world titles and 55 national event wins by overreacting to the little bumps in the road. Instead, you maintain the course and carry on, which is exactly what the 38-year-old Coughlin and his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt teammates have done as the NHRA tour turns to this weekend’s 22nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals.

“I look at Houston with a lot of excitement,” Coughlin said. “We had a sub-par outing in Gainesville but after going back to the shop and looking at all the data we’ve realized all of our problems were self inflicted. We were just too aggressive with the tune-up so we’ve corrected the errors and we’re ready to get after it again at Houston Raceway Park.

“It’s funny because after you win a race you’re always real anxious to get back in the car and race again because you feel like you have the hot hand. At the same time, at least for me, getting back in the car after a not-so-great weekend seems even more important. It’s like you want to put it behind you and the best way to do that is move forward.”

HRP is the perfect place for Coughlin to recover. He’s a three-time winner at the venerable southeast Texas facility, located just a stone’s throw from Galveston Bay, having won there in 1997, ’98, and 2000.

“The first race I ever won as a professional was in Houston so it’ll always be a very special place for me,” Coughlin said. “The Angel family really understands what it takes to have a first-class facility. You always like racing at a racer’s track and this is certainly one of them. I know Seth (Angel, HRP’s general manager) has put a lot of effort into upgrades over the last 18 months and the track should be primo.

“We’re chomping at the bit to put Gainesville behind us and now we’ve got two events in a row so we can really get into race mode and focus on what we need to do.”

Coughlin is currently third with 223 points. He is just five points behind Allen Johnson and trails leader Jason Line by 62 points.

Following the Houston race, the Full Throttle Series goes straight to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the fifth race of the regular season.

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