EPPING, N.H. (July 3) — The numbers are adding up nicely for six-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his Elite Performance Pro Stock teammates at the halfway point of the 24-race NHRA drag racing season. To date, Elite-powered drivers have won half of the events on the schedule, including Coughlin's own triumphs in Chicago and Bristol. Coughlin and teammates Erica Enders and Vincent Nobile all hold down top-10 rankings, with additional Elite drivers Alex Laughlin and Matt Hartford close behind in 11th and 12th place, respectively.
"We weathered a pretty long storm at Elite but the guys never gave up and they completely turned the tide beginning at this year's Gainesville race," Coughlin said. "We've absolutely been on a tear ever since. Check the stats and you'll see there's been an Elite car in nine straight finals and we've all combined to win six races so it's definitely been a great stretch.
"It's exciting to pull into the track knowing you have a great chance of winning. It's still not easy by any stretch, but knowing you have the car underneath you to match the talent you have in the pits and back at the engine shop, that certainly gives you a lift."
After snapping his own lengthy winless stretch in Illinois, Coughlin has epitomized the Elite resurgence, winning three national events in a row, adding a Super Comp trophy run in Richmond to his two Pro Stock victories. At the last event in Norwalk, Coughlin was the top qualifier and had the quickest car of the opening round of eliminations before unexpectedly bowing out in the quarterfinals.
"We're enjoying a little breath after the first four-in-a-row stretch of the season, but the JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro crew probably wouldn't have minded if we just kept on racing considering the progress we've made," Coughlin said. "Two Pro Stock wins and a couple of quarterfinal finishes is not bad at all, and when you throw in the Super Comp trophy we earned we have plenty of reasons to smile.
"It seems the biggest competition we're running into these days is our teammates so if we can figure out how to stay out of each other's way early in the day we can keep this incredible run alive."
Heading into the sixth annual NHRA New England Nationals, Coughlin is hoping to return to his winning ways, which would allow him to scratch New England Dragway off the small list of places where he has yet to win. Coughlin has won everywhere on tour except Epping and Norwalk.
"This is a neat venue that's been around a long time, just not always as part of the national tour," Coughlin said. "I enjoy the racetrack and the Northeast fans who come out in force because they only get one chance a year to see the pros and we feed off their enthusiasm.
"I'd love to get a win up there. We have everything we need to get it done and it's my wife Samantha's birthday this weekend so we're already going to be in celebration mode."