TOPEKA, Kan. (May 29) — It’s been 55 years since Burt Lancaster and Frank Sinatra dominated the silver screen with the James Jones classic “From Here to Eternity.” For three-time series champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., it seems almost as long since he’s driven his Chevrolet Cobalt down the quarter-mile.

“It seems like it’s been a very long time since we’ve raced,” said Coughlin, a two-time Topeka winner having claimed the Super Stock title there in 1994 and the Pro Stock crown in 2000. “I hope I remember how to drive the car!”

Coughlin will get to shake the doldrums brought on by an extremely rare three-week early summer break in the action this weekend when the POWERade Drag Racing Series finally returns to action at Heartland Park Topeka. It wasn’t meant to be this long between events but a freak problem with the track surface in Bristol, Tenn., reshuffled the schedule and leaves the drivers facing eight races in the next nine weeks.

“Our resolve will be tested,” Coughlin said. “But I can tell you Victor Cagnazzi Racing is as prepared as possible. We’re ready, and that’s a good thing, because this stretch of races will set the Countdown for the Championship. Basically, if you want to be a player in the title hunt, it’s time to get to work.”

Coughlin and teammate Dave Connolly occupy third and second place, respectively, in the current POWERade rankings. The two hot shots met in the final of the last race in St. Louis with Connolly narrowly edging Coughlin for Cagnazzi Racing’s first victory.

Since then, there has been some major restructuring of Coughlin and Connolly’s race teams in regards to sponsorship and branding as Coughlin’s car picked up major backing from and Connolly added support from Seelye Wright Automotive Group.

“In that regard, the break came at a perfect time as we were able to re-design the way the car’s look and get all the uniforms and stickers where they’re supposed to be,” Coughlin said. “I also had a chance to go down to the shop in Charlotte (N.C.) and spend some time with everyone there. It kind of got us all pumped up to unveil these new looks and to celebrate the early successes we’ve had as a team.

“The team’s focus is entirely on preparing ourselves for eight races in nine weeks. It’s going to be brutal but we’re up for the challenge. I personally have just one weekend off between now and Labor Day with a couple of extra races on my docket so I’m sure this summer will fly by. We’re in great shape now. Hopefully, we can say that again in nine weeks.”

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