ST. LOUIS (Sept. 23) — Another solid weekend at the drag races ended with five-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. taking a big step towards the 2018 crown. Racing in the second of six Countdown to the Championship playoff events, Coughlin's top qualifying effort coupled with a semifinal finish lifted him from sixth to fourth place in the Mello Yello standings.
"We had a good race day here in St. Louis," Coughlin said. "We started in the best spot and went one round further than we did last weekend so we're pleased. We have a great racecar and our confidence is sky high. It still takes a perfect day to end up in the winner's circle and we weren't perfect, but we have every reason to be excited."
After wrapping up his 26th career low qualifier award with a stunning 6.496 at 211.76 mph, Coughlin proudly led the field into eliminations in his JEGS.com Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro. He then beat Mark Hogan and Greg Anderson before succumbing to Drew Skillman in the semifinals. Coughlin left first on all three of his opponents.
Against Hogan, Coughlin grabbed a massive .115-second head start at the Christmas Tree and simply drove away from the final qualifier, winning with a 6.542 at 210.60 mph to Hogan's 6.943 at 170.04 mph. He then earned a .019-second lead on Anderson and went on to win with a 6.573 at 210.54 mph to Anderson's 6.591 at 210.54 mph.
"We took care of business in Round 1 but popped the motor in the lights, which lead to a quick engine swap," Coughlin said. "The guys did a great job getting that done and getting us prepped for a very big race against Greg. I was able to get a little on him at the starting line and hold on for the win. That was a big moment for us."
In the semis, Coughlin did his job once again by leaving ahead of Skillman, but his car got very loose and by the time he got it under control Skillman was too far gone, winning with a 6.581 at 211.63 mph to Coughlin's 6.778 at 207.62 mph.
"We didn't have lane choice against Drew and the right side was a little suspect, but not too bad," Coughlin said. "We just got a little out of sync and the car wanted to move around. By the time I straightened it up I could only watch Drew drive off into the sunset, as it were.
"It's been a solid start to the Countdown for us and we're right where we want to be as far as the car and how it's responding to what we're asking it to do. I'm excited for a weekend off and then we'll get back after it in Texas."
Everyone on tour has a chance to take a breath next weekend before returning to action with the 33rd annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Oct. 4-7, at the Texas Motorplex just south of Dallas.