READING, Pa. (Aug. 15) — In the few short days between his historic 50th win in Brainerd, Minn., and this weekend’s 23rd annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa., three-time champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. has taken an unexpected trip down memory lane.

Becoming just the 11th competitor in 57 years of NHRA Championship Drag Racing to win 50 national events, Coughlin has done something he rarely does — stop and enjoy the moment.

“I had some old racing friends stop by earlier this week and we got to talking about all the wins along the way,” Coughlin said from his Delaware, Ohio, home. “We went down in the trophy room and started going one-by-one through all the Wallys and it really stirred up some awesome memories for me.

“I vividly remember standing on the stage at the U.S. Nationals, the granddaddy of them all, in 1992 after winning the Super Gas trophy for my second career win. Wally Parks himself presented me with the trophy. It was so special to me. I remember that first Pro Stock win in 1997 in Houston; the sense of accomplishment was overwhelming.

“I know I’m guilty of being too focused on the next race and not really enjoying the moment but I definitely savored this one. We had a great team dinner in Brainerd and I got to thank all the guys on the team. To me, that’s the thing that gets overlooked — all the hard work and countless hours the team puts in to make the driver look good. If anything, this 50th win should be dedicated to all the people that helped me get it done.”

Now on to the business at hand: Coughlin enters Maple Grove Raceway for the 17th race of the 2007 season with a stranglehold on second place in the Countdown to the Championship. He knows the points will be reset for the top-eight racers after the event as the second phase of the Countdown, entitled the Countdown to Four, begins in Indy. He’ll start the four-race Countdown to Four just 10 points behind Greg Anderson.

“We can really just let it all hang out this weekend and try to get No. 51,” Coughlin said. “The main thing I want to do is enjoy myself and continue this high we’re on at the moment. It’s important to hit the ground running in Indy.

“Maple Grove is always a quick place and the fans there pack the stands from morning to night. They love Pro Stock and that’s exciting. We hope to give them a show and maybe make a few more memories.”

Coughlin has collected two of his 50 trophies at Maple Grove Raceway. He won the Super Gas title there in 1996 and the Pro Stock trophy in 1999.

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