MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 10) — For the vast majority of the 2007 season, three-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. lingered near the top of the POWERade rankings. He entered the first phase of the Countdown to the Championship a solid third in the points and quickly found himself just 20 points, or one round of action, out of the lead.

But as quickly as the new playoff system rewarded him for his regular season work, it penalized him harshly for an unlikely first-round loss in Indianapolis during the opening race of the Countdown to Four. With one race down and three to go before the next cutoff in the battle for the championship, Coughlin finds himself outside the provisional field of qualified drivers for the first time since mid-March. Fortunately, he’s just 11 points behind the fourth and final spot.

“The nature of the Countdown leaves very little room for error,” Coughlin said. “But the fact we’ve run so well and consistently all year leaves me feeling very confident that we’ll be able to rebound. We’re all bunched up pretty tight in the standings and I don’t see any need to panic just yet. This team is too experienced for that.”

Indeed, Coughlin accumulated more points than anyone else during the 13-race stretch from the storied Gatornationals in March through the Western Swing in late August. Over that time, he won three races in six final-round showings, adding his landmark 50th national event victory in Brainerd, Minn. In 18 races, his Chevrolet Cobalt has successfully carried him to 15 top-half qualifying efforts and a 32-15 raceday record.

“The entire Victor Cagnazzi Racing organization has been built for winning championships,” Coughlin said. “We were fortunate enough to clinch our spots in the Countdown to Four early, along with my teammate Dave Connolly, so the guys have had a chance to prepare for this playoff deal. What happened in Indy was a fluke, not the norm. We need to prove that fact in Memphis.”

Memphis Motorsports Park should be a perfect spot for Coughlin to regain the upper hand in the championship chase. He’s a two-time winner at the western Tennessee speedplant, having claimed titles there in each of two years he won the POWERade Pro Stock title, 2000 and 2002. Coughlin’s third world title came in Super Gas in 1992.

“We love Memphis,” he said. “It’s always been a great track for us. I remember sharing the winner’s circle there with my brother Mike in 2000 when I won Pro Stock and he won Pro Stock Truck. That remains a personal highlight for me.

“Bottom line, we need to get back in the top four and stay there for the next three races so we’re there for the final championship push. It all starts this weekend and I guarantee you this team is driven and prepared to make a statement.”

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