INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 28) — Reigning Pro Stock champion and current Full Throttle point leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. was just 6 years old when his father Jeg Coughlin Sr. won his first of two Indy trophies. But even at that tender age, Jeg Jr. realized how important it was to claim glory on drag racing’s most hallowed grounds.
Sixteen years later, the extraordinary feeling of accomplishment that comes from conquering the sport’s longest running event returned when Jeg Jr. watched from the grandstands as older brother Troy Coughlin handled a competitive Super Gas class to earn the hardware.
Just a year after that, Jeg Jr. was in the driver’s seat of his own JEGS-sponsored Super Gas hot rod, beating veteran Sherman Adcock for his first U.S. Nationals title. It was almost too much for the lifelong drag racer to comprehend and the memory is as special now as it was 17 years ago.
“It’s the ultimate feeling of accomplishment for a drag racer,” Jeg Jr. said. “Indy always has been the race everyone points to as the one to win. It is such a historic event. The feeling you get when you win there is really hard to describe.
“I remember 1992 quite well. My great friend Sherman Adcock was in the other lane and when we pulled around the corner and I saw those packed grandstands it was overwhelming, like a dream. I will never forget the elation I felt when the win light came on. The coolest part of it all was sharing the winner’s circle with my dad and his parents, Gaga and Papa, and Mr. Wally Parks himself. I still get chills thinking about that day.”
Jeg Jr. has won Indy three more times in his career, twice in Pro Stock (2000 and 2002), and once more in the 2004 Mopar Hemi Challenge, when he drove Michael Ogburn’s ’68 Barracuda factory race car to a victory.
“In a race that means so much to the history of our sport it’s really neat that Team JEGS has left it’s mark on the U.S. Nationals,” Jeg Jr. said. “Dad won here a few times, Troy got that win in 1991, my brother Mikey won Pro Stock Truck in 1999 and 2001, and my other brother John was runner-up in Pro Stock Truck there in 2000.
“This year, my nephew Troy Jr., is racing at his first U.S. Nationals so now we’ve got a third generation coming into the picture. How cool is that?”
The NHRA leader in races won this season after claiming victory No. 6 at the tour’s last stop in Reading, Pa., Jeg Jr. enters Indy, the last race of the regular season, with a 65-point lead in the standings. Should he maintain his top ranking through the event, he’ll start the six-race Countdown to 1 playoffs with a 30-point lead over his nearest rival, which includes a 20-point bonus for leading the regular season. Jeg Jr. has led the points for the last 13 races dating back to April 5th in Las Vegas.
“It’s really, really big to come into Indy off our Reading win,” Jeg Jr. said. “It showed once again that when we get all our ducks in a row we can run with anyone in the class. It was a great boost for this JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt race team and everyone at Victor Cagnazzi Racing.
“I think the guys all know how big this race is for the team. We were just talking the other day about when the U.S. Nationals were on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. I remember ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits shaving his beard on national TV. I remember ‘the Snake’ and ‘the Mongoose’ racing in the finals just after ‘the Mongoose’ had lost his son. The list goes on and on.
“Many of the most indelible memories of this sport originate from Indy. I just hope we can make a few more memories of our own this time through. No matter what, I know I’ll get goosebumps when I pull through the gates. I always do.”