INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1) — Six-time NHRA champion drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. will try to match his number of world titles with trophies from the sport's biggest race Monday when he vies for the win in Pro Stock at this year's 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Coughlin is qualified seventh overall.
In Top Alcohol Dragster, Jeg Jr.'s nephew Troy Coughlin Jr. managed to qualify in the No. 1 position at the most prestigious event on the schedule. A stout 5.174 at 277.72 mph in the JEGS.com McPhillips Racing rail got the job done.
"The hard work has been done, as far as qualifying goes, and now it's time to have some fun and try to win the 'Big Go,'" Jeg Jr. said. "This is the one we all dream about."
Long regarded as the biggest drag race of them all, Coughlin already has five Indy victories in his illustrious career. He won Pro Stock here in 2000, 2002, and 2009, Super Gas in 1992, and the Mopar Hemi Challenge in 2004.
As for this year's race, Saturday offered the best conditions for Pro Stock and Jeg Jr. took advantage of the two sessions, running a 6.586 at 207.59 mph and a nearly identical 6.587 at 208.68 mph. He also posted a 6.607, 6.619 and 6.622.
"We've made good runs," Jeg Jr. said. "We were trying to move the needle a little each day. We made little adjustments here and there after Friday's lone session and put our best foot forward as far as numbers go on Saturday and ended up seventh.
"We were fourth quickest in both sessions today after the rain, so better in relation to the field, and our teammate Erica Enders was second quickest of Q4 and quickest of Q5 today. Of course, we have her data to work from as well as ours, so we like where we are going into race day."
The first challenge for Jeg Jr. when eliminations begin will be Chris McGaha, who qualified a few spots back in 10th on the strength of a 6.596 at 208.52 mph. Jeg Jr. and McGaha have not faced each other this season.
"It looks like we'll have some decent cloud cover early so Round 1 will be really good," Jeg Jr. said. "You already know everyone will be throwing their best effort out there. It gets a little warmer after that so it'll be interesting to see who plays it best.
"I've enjoyed racing with T.J. again this weekend. His team has been going tit-for-tat with all the top teams in that class and they are winning races and really showing well, obviously here and over the last two months, especially. We'll be rooting for them."
Troy Jr. is hoping to translate his No. 1 qualifying effort into a third Indy win. He already won the sport's crown jewel in 2010 in Super Comp and 2014 in Super Gas. The first round of TAD eliminations was scheduled for Sunday night but it was pushed to Monday morning after an accident in Pro Mod.
When he does return to the track, Troy Jr. will be racing Brandon Greco, who anchored the 16-car field with a 5.392 at 262.59 mph.
"The JEGS.com McPhillips Racing alky digger is absolutely flyin' at the Big Go," Troy Jr. said. "It's definitely a marathon of a race but the boys are doing a fantastic job of putting the best car possible together for every round. Rich (McPhillips, tuner/owner) is doing his usual perfect job of reading the conditions and here we are in the No. 1 position. It's pretty exciting. Monday here we come!"