CHARLOTTE (April 24) — Six-time world champion drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. leads a strong contingent of talented JEGS-sponsored racers into this weekend's ninth annual NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals that will vie for wins in Pro Stock, Top Alcohol Dragster, Super Gas and Super Comp.
More importantly, the driver of the JEGS.com/Elite Performance Pro Stock Camaro will be racing with his family, as his teammates for this event consist of his wife Samantha, his nephew Troy Jr., and his niece Paige. The Charlotte group, which includes Jeg's brother Troy, the father of Troy Jr. and Paige, who will be on hand to offer support, also will be rooting for 13-year-old Clay, who will be racing his Junior Dragster in Columbus with his dad Mike, the brother of Jeg Jr. and Troy.
Yes, there are many fast-moving parts to the Coughlin clan, and to a person, they wouldn't want it any other way.
"Racing has always been a family affair for us," Jeg Jr. said. "My three brothers and I grew up following dad (Jeg Sr.) around the Midwest when he was competing. That got all of us interested in the sport and in turn many of our kids enjoy racing these days.
"It's also a huge part of our business. JEGS Automotive was born out a need my father discovered in his youth that people wanted high performance parts to improve the cars they were racing. It's all grown together hand-in-hand since then."
Jeg Jr. could be in for a big weekend in Charlotte as his racing fortunes took a massive upturn in Houston, where he qualified No. 2 and raced to his best finish of the year after switching to a new car.
"We've been chasing it all year and it was very satisfying and rewarding to seemingly have it all come together for us this past weekend in Texas," Coughlin said. "We're hungry for a victory and doing it together with family around would make it very special.
"Charlotte will be my wife’s first race of the year. We are both excited about that. Troy Jr. made some laps in her car in Richmond a week or so ago and it went really, really well so I am excited to see her compete in Super Gas and Troy Jr. to race again in his Top Alcohol Dragster. That car is very fast. Plus, it's Paige's first national event so it'll be quite a memorable affair all the way around.
"It's another weekend of racing with my family so I'm super happy. That's how we like it."
Piloting the JEGS.com Top Alcohol Dragster out of the McPhillips Racing camp, Troy Jr. says racing as a family is all he really knows.
"It's interesting because the McPhillips are just like us — they've always raced together, so that's probably why I'm so happy and comfortable over here," Troy Jr. said. "I can't recall but maybe a handful of races over my career where I haven't had at least one family member in the pits with me and usually its more, like this weekend.
"I feel very lucky to live the life I live and to race the way we race. If we weren't doing this together I doubt I'd be out here. That's how strongly I feel about racing as a family. And this weekend we're bringing my little sister Paige to her first national event and it's pretty awesome for me to be there with her because that's a big deal."
Coming off a No. 1 qualifying effort at a divisional event in Virginia, Super Comp driver Paige revels in the support of her three-time championship-winning father Troy, her brother Troy Jr., her Aunt Samantha, and a large extended "family" of supporters.
"I couldn't race without my family," Paige said. "And that includes my crew guys, Justin Beaver and Tony Collier, who have really shaped me and given me the ability to go rounds. It's also important to note the support of the 400-strong and completely amazing associates at JEGS headquarters.
"Of course, my mom and dad have been so supportive of everything and T.J. is the best big brother ever. He's raced so much and has done everything so he's great to talk to when I have a question. Plus, he helps get the car set up and tests for me when I'm in school. That's another big bonus of racing as a family; all the help you get."
As they have done on many occasions, the entire Coughlin family will be keeping up with each other via the Internet and text messages.
"My son Clay is racing his 7.90 electric Junior Dragster at National Trail Raceway this weekend, his first race of the year, and I'll be there helping him," two-time D3 champ Mike said. "We'll definitely stay in constant contact with everyone at Charlotte, finding out what's happening there and letting them know how we're doing.
"For me personally, I've gotten so much joy and satisfaction watching my family members do well. Seeing Jeg Jr.'s incredible successes over the years, watching Troy win his Pro Mod championships, and now being a part of all the kids coming up and doing their thing, it's just been a wonderful ride so far. Hopefully it continues for many years."