DELAWARE, Ohio (Jan 29) — Jeg Coughlin Jr. will add some championship flair to this weekend’s third annual Pontiac Showdown test session in Las Vegas as the defending NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion and his race team finalize their tune-up for the 2008 season. A four-time world champion with 51 national event wins, Coughlin arrives at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as one of the most decorated drag racers of all-time.

“We’re extremely excited about the start of the season and this test should give us a real good gauge of how we’re going to stack up against the competition this year,” the 37-year-old Coughlin said. “I’m sure everyone else has been working hard this off-season and is taking aim at us but we’re ready for them. It’s going to be another terrific year.”

The Pontiac Showdown officially runs Friday and Saturday, with teams testing throughout the day Friday before setting an elimination field Saturday morning. Then the Showdown itself takes place with the winner gaining a nice cash prize and a ton of momentum heading into the 48th annual NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 7-10, in Pomona, Calif.

“We’re starting the season with the same chassis we won the title with last year but aside from the basic framework, the car is totally new,” Coughlin said. “From the killer yellow and black paint on the exterior to every inch of wiring inside, the entire piece has been rebuilt from top to bottom and front to back.

“It was a total team effort this winter from everyone within Victor Cagnazzi Racing. Todd Bevis and his crew took the car and the chassis and figured out how to lighten it by 25 pounds. They have really designed a unique piece, unlike anything out there, and it clearly is a very fast racecar.

“While they were working on the car, Joe Hornick and Steve Johns have enhanced the engine package and found some more horsepower. We’re still using the DRCE2 engines for now but they’ve got a lot of work done on the DRCE3 engines as well so we might see them debut with our team at some point.”

Coughlin’s goals for the weekend are simple — work out any potential problems, shake off some rust in his driving, and have fun with crew chief Roy Simmons and team.

“The Pontiac Showdown is great because it feels like a real race, and it is, but at the same time you don’t have that do-or-die feeling like you sometimes feel at national events,” Coughlin said. “There are no championship points on the line so the pressure isn’t really there. Of course, any time you gather drag racers together you want to put your best foot forward, especially with Pomona right around the corner. We’re anxious to see how we measure up.”

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