Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin already has the perfect gift picked out for his son Jeg Jr.’s eighth birthday, which occurs Sunday during eliminations for the 45th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals.

“Jeggie gonna be 8 so that can only mean one thing in this family,” Coughlin said. “He’s officially old enough for a Junior Dragster. We have one ready for him but he has no idea its coming.”

While he’s at it, the older Coughlin is thinking he might as well pick up one more gift for his little buddy — the trophy of the historic season-opening race. “It would be very cool to win one for lil’ Jeggie,” dad said. “He loves getting the little gold man [Wally statue.]”

There’s no reason to think Coughlin can’t deliver. After all, he’s a two-time winner of this event, having won here in 1999 and 2000, over his brother Troy Coughlin and six-time series champion Warren Johnson, respectively. Collectively, four of Coughlin’s 33 career victories have come on the fabled quarter-mile of Pomona Raceway.

This year Coughlin arrives as one of the newest members of the powerful Don Schumacher Racing contingent. Coughlin will be teammates with Richie Stevens in a pair of identically-prepared Dodge Stratus R/Ts tuned by 10-time champ Bob Glidden, the legendary driver-turned -crew chief who joined Schumacher midseason in 2004. The only difference between the cars is the sponsorship on the door. Coughlin will remain clad in the familiar yellow-and-black of Jeg’s Mail Order, while Stevens will wear the blue, black, and white of Mopar.

“The entire program has come together so well in testing and we’re super excited to be coming into Pomona as part of Don’s team,” Coughlin said. “There’s a lot of talent in this pit and it’s definitely fun to be a part of it all. Richie is going to be a great teammate and hopefully the two-car approach will pay big dividends for both of us. It’s wonderful to have Bob Glidden making the calls. He’s always been my hero and now I’m getting to work with him on a daily basis.

“If the Winternationals doesn’t get your blood pumping then you’re not a true drag racer. The excitement of the new season is everywhere. There are new drivers, new paint schemes, and new cars, and for us this year lots of new teammates. You know the weather and the track will be good and that right now everyone is equal in the points standings so you have that nice feeling of a fresh start.

“It’s an exciting time of the year. I kind of feel like it’s my birthday as well and I know I like little gold men every bit as much as lil’ Jeggie.”

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