Contributed By RICK BURSON
Delaware Gazette Staff Writer
It’s 2004, and you know what that means.
Yeah, it’s an election year too. But if recent history means anything, the
National Hot Rod Association’s Pro Stock championship trophy might just make
an appearance in Delaware again this year.
As the JEG’S Mail Order racing team tunes up for the season opening event
Feb. 6-9 in Pomona, Calif., Jeg Coughlin Jr. has his eye on the title he won
in both 2000 and 2002.
“We’re hoping the even year means good luck,” said Coughlin, one half of the
Team Jeg’s duo that includes older brother Troy. “We’re really excited about
the season. We feel like we’re going to have a good start. It’s a fresh
start; everyone is tied right now.”
Stronger starts in 2003 might have made the odd-numbered year lucky for the
Coughlins also. Jeg finished third in the POWERade points standings, while
Troy rallied with a strong second half of the season to finish 13th.
“We had a strong second half, a couple of wins late in the year,” said Jeg
Jr. “We just missed out on some opportunities earlier in the season. But we
felt as though we had a pretty good year.”
Jeg Jr. was one of just two drivers to reach the elimination rounds in all
23 races a year ago. Greg Anderson, the 2003 Pro Stock champion, also did
“When you’ve got 30 to 40 cars out there every week, all within three or
four hundredths of a second of each other, it’s tough to qualify every
week,” said Jeg Jr., who posted two wins, six runner-up finishes and had the
lowest reaction time (.023 seconds) of the season.
Jeg Jr. counted a late-season win in Sonoma, Calif., as both a season and
“Winning the race in Sonoma kind of marked a milestone for us,” he said. “We
have now won at least one race at each of the 23 tracks we run on. That’s a
feat we’re definitely proud of. It’s neat.”
Jeg Jr. also won the Moroso 5-Day Bracket Championship in Jupiter, Fla.,
after the conclusion of the regular NHRA season.
The Coughlin family has surpassed the 100-win mark between John, Troy, Mike, Jeg Jr., and their dad, Jeg Sr.
Troy’s season rebounded after a shakeup with his racing crew. He posted two
runner-up finishes as well as career bests for speed (204.04 miles per
hour), and elapsed time (6.734 seconds).
“I went through a couple of crew chiefs and really struggled early in the
year,” he said. “I think 2003 was an up-and-down year, but in the last 10
races it really turned around. If we had done that well throughout the whole
season, we would have finished in the top six. It was an exciting finish to
Troy and one crew chief had ongoing differences of opinion on engine
performance and other vital issues.
“I finally just said I don’t think I can afford to go out there every week
and not qualify,” he said.
Troy’s crew will be run this season by a familiar face ‹ Craig Hankinson, a
member of Jeg Jr.’s 2000 championship crew.
“We’re really excited to have Craig back with us,” said Troy. “He’s been
there before and he’s familiar with our philosophies.”
In recent weeks the Coughlins’ cars have undergone wind tunnel testing in
Charlotte, N.C., as well as ongoing testing at the JEG’S research and
development center. The brothers currently are track-testing the cars in
“We’re trying to leave no stone unturned,” said Jeg Jr., noting that
everything from aerodynamics to tire pressure is scrutinized to find just
the right mix. A happier-balanced car is a quicker car.
“Some of the enhancements out of the R&D department here have been sound and
should add horsepower to the cars. We’ve had some great results on paper. We’ll see what happens when we get on the track.”