ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 18) — Five-time Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. managed to keep his title hopes alive Sunday at the 35th annual AAA NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex by beating Jason Line in the quarterfinals and advancing to the final four in his JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
Line entered the weekend as the class points leader but dropped to second Saturday when Coughlin’s Elite Motorsports teammate Erica Enders beat Line to win the postponed St. Louis race, which had been put on hold two weeks ago. With both Enders and Coughlin advancing to Sunday’s semifinal, the pair were able to gain a little ground on Line, who remained second, three rounds ahead of Coughlin and a round and half behind Enders.
“We chipped away a little bit but left some there as well,” Coughlin said. “It was great to get Jason out of the way in Round 2 and, although I would never, ever wish Erica to lose, I was sitting in the waterbox watching in Round 3 when she lost to Matt Hartford, so there was a big chance to go another round or two, but Greg (Anderson, Coughlin’s semifinal opponent) and his crew had other plans.
“We’ve not helped our cause the last few races but we got back on track today to some extent and we have two and a half more races to go at two of my favorite tracks on tour so we’ll keep fighting. I say two and a half because the Vegas finale is awarding points and a half each round so there is extra on the table should anyone falter.”
Coughlin has four victories at Houston Raceway Park, the site of next weekend’s penultimate race, having won there in 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2010. He has five more wins at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with trophy finishes in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2008 and 2009.
Sunday, Coughlin beat Aaron Stanfield with a 6.600 at 206.32 mph to Stanfield’s 6.607 at 207.43 mph, and Line with a 6.629 at 206.48 mph to Line’s 6.631 at 200.80 mph. Against Anderson, Coughlin’s 6.627 at 206.07 mph wasn’t enough for Anderson’s 6.612 at 207.40 mph. “It’s been a fun year, without question,” said Coughlin, who will retire from full-time competition after the Las Vegas finale. “We won a few races earlier this year and had the points lead for quite a while but being off just a touch in two races really cost us. But that’s behind us so we’ll focus on a great finish and see what happens.”
Troy Coughlin Jr., Jeg Jr.’s nephew and teammate, was beaten by Enders in the opening round of Sunday’s eliminations. Driving a JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Ford Mustang, Troy Jr. left the starting line -.002 seconds early to giftwrap the win for Enders, who powered to a 6.593 at 208.52 mph.