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

career highlight.

“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

the season.”

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.”


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