RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 1) — With three world titles and 50 national event victories to his credit, Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. is certainly no stranger to pressure. As one of just 11 drag racers in the history of the sport to reach the 50-win plateau, Coughlin has become a master of his emotions whenever he’s behind the wheel of his 1,300-horsepower Chevrolet Cobalt.

With all of his experience, Coughlin knows there is no substitute for seat time and after a disappointing first-round loss at the last NHRA event in Dallas — a race where he could have solidified his spot in the Countdown to One but instead fell to fourth place overall in the four-car field — his Victor Cagnazzi Racing team decided to hit the test strip in search of answers.

“We spent two full days at South Georgia Motorsports Park and I spent more time in the car than I have over any two-day period ever,” Coughlin said. “We had signed on with Goodyear several weeks ago to test some new tires for them and it happened at a great time for us because there were some things on the car we felt needed to be addressed.

“Roy Simmons (crew chief) and the guys found a few things they wanted to change to help make the car go straight, especially down low where you make all the e.t. with these cars, and the adjustments they made really seemed to work. I did 40 or so burnouts and launches and probably a dozen or more full passes and the car went straight every time. It was an excellent test for us and I know we gave the Goodyear engineers a bunch of good data for their research and development efforts.”

Coughlin enters the final race before the field of drivers eligible for the 2007 title is reduced to four racers on the bump spot. He’s just 16 points behind third-place Allen Johnson, but just 18 ahead of fifth-place Jason Line and 29 ahead of sixth-place Kurt Johnson. Even Larry Morgan lurks just 50 points back in seventh.

“There are five of us fighting for the last two spots,” Coughlin said, referring to the fact Dave Connolly and Greg Anderson have already secured the first two positions. “It’s basically come down to who does the best this weekend. There is no room for error, nor should there be.

“It’s good for me to know I’ll be getting in my car this Friday just a few days removed from making several great passes. Mentally, I’m ready to go right now. We also know the crew is completely in tune with the car. I fully expect us to rise to the occasion.”

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