Professional drag racing brothers Jeg and Troy Coughlin took their new hot rods to Bradenton Motorsports Park near Tampa, Fla., this week for the first round of many planned test sessions leading into the POWERade series opener in mid-February.

It was a productive three days in the Sunshine State for the decorated drag racing duo. Three-time series champion Jeg got behind the wheel of the Jeg’s Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T for the first time and made half a dozen full passes to shakedown the unfamiliar ride. At the same time, Troy logged a bunch more seat time in new teammate Mike Ashley’s Corvette as he continues to transition from Pro Stock to Pro Mod.

Under the guidance of 10-time world titleholder Bob Glidden, who will serve as his crew chief in 2005 and beyond, Jeg got acquainted with his Schumacher Racing stablemates and the subtleties of his new car with several test squirts. Mixing in a healthy dose of burnouts and half-track runs, Coughlin took his ride to the other end six times, logging several low-6.7 second passes, including a pair of 6.70s at 205 mph.

“We’re very pleased with the car and how it responded,” Jeg said. “The conditions were nearly perfect, especially the first few days, and some other teams ran astronomical numbers, but we weren’t really trying to do that. We just wanted to get familiar with the car and the tune-up Bob uses and set a baseline we can work from in the future. I think we accomplished that goal.

“Probably the thing I’m most pumped up about is how we all got along as a team. Working with Bob Glidden is almost an unreal experience. I mean, I grew up admiring the man and it’s hard to comprehend that we’ll be working together as teammates now. I feel very fortunate to have him in our corner.”

Across the pit, Troy continued to get his feet wet in the speedy world of Pro Mod. Working with respected co-crew chiefs Chuck Ford and Hugh Scott, his team spent its time in Florida working on the new rule changes for the Pro Mod category, which includes a reduction of 100 pounds to the overall weight of the car and an increase in blower overdrive from 20 to 29 percent.

“We figured we picked up 300 horsepower at least so we had some work to do to figure out the new combination,” Troy said. “We didn’t make any full runs yet, in fact I don’t think I stayed in it past 330 feet even one time, but it is still the coolest sensation in the world to drop the clutch on one of these cars. The acceleration is so much more noticeable than it was in a Pro Stock car.

“The cars are much faster yet they feel more stable when you get out of the groove. Everything is magnified. When you have tire shake in a Pro Mod you can easily end up in the other lane. It’s two different worlds.”

Troy and Jeg plan to return to Bradenton in early January. By then, Troy hopes to have the Jeg’s Mail Order Ford Mustang he’ll run during the year.

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