“I don’t care how long you race, this is probably one of the sweetest feelings I’ve had inside in a long, long time,” Coughlin said when he climbed out of his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt. “I think we’re up to 62 career wins now, including our Sportsman stuff, and they’re all special, but this one is way up there, I can assure you.”
After downing Pro Stock newbie Bob Yonke in Round 1 with a 6.582 at 210.64 mph to Yonke’s 6.634 at 208.91 mph, Coughlin ran a gauntlet of Pro Stock giants to reach the winner’s circle, beating three-time champion Greg Anderson, reigning titlist Mike Edwards, and perennial title contender Allen Johnson.
Coughlin was at his best in the money round, leaving on Johnson by a .024- to .045-second advantage, which translated to a holeshot win at the finish line. The final numbers had Coughlin crossing with a winning 6.599 at 210.77 mph to Johnson’s quicker but losing 6.596 at 210.77 mph.
“We struggled early in the weekend and just couldn’t get a hold of the clutch,” Coughlin said. “It seemed like we were always on one side of it or the other. We made some pretty big changes before Q4 and didn’t totally get a handle on it that round and lost some ET but it set us up great for today.
“Roy (Simmons), my dad (Jeg Sr.), and Victor (Cagnazzi, team owner) put their heads together and came up with a gameplan and more than anything else we came into the day with a lot of confidence. It’s never easy when you get totally different weather conditions on race day than you had in qualifying but the three of them figured it out and we got the win.”
This was Coughlin’s fourth professional win at Houston Raceway Park. He previously recorded victories here in 1997, 1998, and 2000. The ’97 win was his first in Pro Stock. Coughlin also posted the best speed of his career when he reached 211.63 mph during qualifying.
Now fifth in the points, Coughlin will try his luck next weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he is the defending race champion. Coughlin has five wins in seven final rounds in Las Vegas.
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