POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 12) — Jeg Coughlin Jr. has certainly earned his place as one of the top-10 drag racers of all-time, having captured five world titles and 68 national events. Yet the 42-year-old Pro Stock racer from Delaware, Ohio, still admits to getting goosebumps whenever he pulls through the gates of Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, the site of this weekend's 53rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals.
"I love it," Coughlin said. "There's something about the season opener; the fresh start it represents. I love seeing all the fans that have traveled literally from around the world to come watch us race. I love looking at all the fresh paint schemes. It's a time when you reconnect with all your racing buddies. The anticipation is so high and that fuels me."
Coughlin has plenty to be excited about just within his own camp. In the off-season, Coughlin teamed with reigning Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson for a two-car attack from the vaunted Mopar brand. Coughlin's JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger will now be pitted side-by-side with Johnson's Mopar Dodge Avenger and the two men and their crews will work closely to keep Mopar on top of the factory hot rod class.
"Obviously it was a big transition for us this off-season joining with Allen and his talented group at J&J Racing," Coughlin said. "We've all spent a lot of time together since November and I feel as though we've really come together as one team. The chemistry is definitely there.
"We managed to hold three test sessions, two down in Bradenton, Florida, and another in Las Vegas on this trip out to Pomona. Everything is working great and I feel like I've got a great racecar. There's nothing better than lining up and knowing you have the capability to run with anyone out there."
A runner-up at this event one year ago, Coughlin is a six-time winner at this facility. He also has six runner-up results and was top qualifier once.
"Maybe the feelings I have for this track just put me in the right frame of mind but I always seem to do so well here and that's a very cool deal for me," Coughlin said. "I'm anxious to get started and see how we measure up this time through."
Qualifying begins at 2 p.m. PST, Thursday, with a single session. There will be another single session with the same start time Friday. Two qualifying sessions are on tap for Saturday beginning at noon. Eliminations are Sunday with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. and racing at 11 a.m. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 10 p.m. EST on Saturday and the eliminations show at 8 p.m. Sunday.