LAS VEGAS (Nov. 2) — Defending series champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. put a stranglehold on his POWERade title defense with a huge win at the eighth annual ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals. The win pushed Coughlin’s lead to 123 points, meaning he only needs to qualify for the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals to clinch his fifth world title.

“This takes a ton of pressure off our shoulders,” Coughlin said. “We had just about a four-round lead coming in and that was awesome but after last year when we came from behind and took it at the end there in Pomona (Calif.) we knew we didn’t want to make any mistakes this weekend.

“This class is so tough and there are so many races where you win or lose by thousandths of a second. We’ve had our share of wins and a few tough losses along the way as well but this team has held together and never lost focus. Today was no exception.”

Coughlin entered the race 74 points up on his nearest rival and continued to win rounds while the chase pack fell to the wayside one by one. First down was Jason Line in Round 1, followed by Dave Connolly, Mike Edwards, and Kurt Johnson in the quarterfinals, and Allen Johnson and Greg Anderson in the semis.

In the final, Coughlin took out Greg Stanfield when Stanfield left the starting line too early and was disqualified. He might have been tough to catch any way as he went on to run a 6.708 at 205.07 mph in his Chevrolet Cobalt.

“A big addition to the team has been my Dad, Jeg Sr.,” Coughlin said. “He’s such a great wealth of information for all of us to lean on and it’s special for me to have him here.”

Perhaps the biggest race of the year came in the quarterfinals when Coughlin raced Connolly. With the potential of a huge swing in the points on the line, Coughlin left first (.014 to .025) and arrived at the finish line first with a 6.710 to Connolly’s 6.717.

“If we rewind the clock one year, we had the same race against Dave and they called it an upset,” Coughlin said. “Today’s run, we both were up for it and I got the jump on the line and out ran him a touch as well. That was huge. It was all on the line there because if he had won it would have let everyone else back into the point race.”

The only person that can catch Coughlin now is Anderson, who would need Coughlin to not qualify for the NHRA Finals and then go on to win the race and set a national record himself to unseat Coughlin. The national record is almost one-tenth of a second quicker than the Pomona track record.

This was Coughlin’s third win of the year in eight final-round showings. He now has 41 career wins in Pro Stock and 54 national event wins in total. This was his third final round showing in the last four races.

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