LAS VEGAS (Oct. 23) — Buoyed by a strong semifinal finish at the last NHRA race in Pennsylvania, five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. is excited about this weekend's trip to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals.

Coughlin, a 68-time national event winner with five victories at Bruton Smith's masterpiece just north of downtown Las Vegas, used his big day in Reading, Pa., to move up two spots in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship standings. He's hoping another productive showing will move him even higher in the rankings.

"We're all jockeying for where we're going to end up," Coughlin said. "The Pro Stock championship is out of reach for us but maybe we can do really well in Vegas and Pomona (Calif.) and get up into the top five.

"Eddie (Guarnaccia, crew chief) and I have talked a lot of strategy in the past few weeks and our plan is to stay super aggressive. That's the game plan. We really feel like we have nothing to lose and plenty to gain so we won't be holding anything back."

Currently eighth in the standings, Coughlin is 27 points behind seventh-place Mike Edwards, 48 back of sixth-place Vieri Gaines and 85 off fifth-place Greg Anderson's pace. Each elimination round on race day is worth 20 points and there are also bonus points up for grabs in each qualifying session.

"We want to be greedy and earn as many points as we can," Coughlin said. "This class is all about horsepower and Nick (Ferri) and Roy Simmons (engine builders) have been working extremely hard in that department. We enjoyed a nice bump in performance in Reading and we hope that continues here.

"Vegas always is a lot of fun and this time of the season with all the various battles going on, that excitement is multiplied. I'm excited to get there."

When not racing his Dodge Avenger, Coughlin will be cheering on his brother Troy Coughlin, who is racing in Pro Mod, and his nephew Troy Coughlin Jr., who is contesting both Super Comp and Super Gas for Team JEGS.

Pro Stock qualifying rounds will take place at 12 and 3 p.m., Friday, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are slated to begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all the action.



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