BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 4) — Reigning Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. will secure his spot in this year’s NHRA drag racing playoffs by simply qualifying for this weekend’s 28th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Considering he’s a four-time winner at Brainerd International Raceway, the task seems easy, but the veteran racer isn’t taking anything for granted.

“We’ve got three races left, including the biggest one of our season in Indy, before the Countdown to 1 starts,” Coughlin said. “What we need to do now is make sure we’re on a hot streak when that six-race sprint to the finish starts in Charlotte on Sept. 11. That’s our second season, if you will, and these last few races before it begins are crucial.”

In addition to being the defending Pro Stock world champion, Coughlin also is the defending champ of the Brainerd event. He beat friendly rival Greg Anderson in the final of last year’s race to claim his landmark 50th national event victory.

To date, Coughlin has won 52 national events, 39 in Pro Stock and 13 more in the Sportsman ranks. He also has four world championships to his credit, three in Pro Stock (2007, 2002, and 2000) and one in Super Gas (1992). In Brainerd, Coughlin has earned three Pro Stock trophies (2007, 2002, and 1999) and one Super Stock title (1997).

“Brainerd has always been good to us,” said Coughlin, who holds the current BIR elapsed time record of 6.659 seconds. “I hear stats like that and the first thought I have is that we’ve only won twice since last year. We need to get that number up, and what better place to do that than Brainerd.

“I’ve always enjoyed the atmosphere of this race. It’s just fun and laid back and you can pick up on that vibe and really enjoy yourself at this event. The people of Minnesota are a breed apart and we certainly like to hang out with them when we’re up here.”

Coughlin’s last outing in Sonoma, Calif., netted him his third runner-up result of the season. In all, he has a win, three runner-ups, and three semifinals finishes this season.

“I’d like to think our team is already revving up for the playoffs,” Coughlin said. “I know Joe Hornick and Stevie Johns and their crew back at the engine shop have some bullets they’re working on for the stretch run. Everyone on the team, really, is collecting that second breath for the fight ahead. We turned it on at the right time last year. All we need to do is repeat that feat and we’ll be fine.”

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