DALLAS (Sept. 21) — Four-time world champion drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. took the NHRA’s regular season by storm. He won seven national events, maintained the top ranking in the Full Throttle championship points for 14 races, and advanced past the first round at every event on the schedule. No one in any of the four professional classes did better.
Then the six-race Countdown to 1 playoffs started and Coughlin hit his first real speed bump of the season, qualifying a distant 12th on the ladder and losing in the first round to Jason Line, one of the drivers who was nipping at his heels all year long.
“Timing is everything in this sport and that certainly wasn’t the way we wanted to start the playoffs,” said Coughlin, a 48-time winner in the Pro Stock category. “We got behind in qualifying (at Charlotte) and didn’t really get the car where we wanted it until Sunday. We actually ran a very good pass against Jason and I’m confident we would have run even quicker in Round 2 but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Coughlin gave up more than a three-round lead in the points when the 10 racers eligible for the ’09 title were reseeded for the Countdown to 1. His first-round exit combined with the efforts of his nearest competition in the rankings had him dropping to second place overall. He now trails Mike Edwards by 56 points heading into this weekend’s 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals.
“It’s time for a rebound,” Coughlin said. “We can’t do anything about Charlotte now so we just need to work on getting right back into the mix this weekend. Dallas was a great race for us last year so if we can repeat our good luck down there we should be fine.”
After setting the elapsed time record at the Texas Motorplex when he qualified No. 1 with 6.631-second pass, Coughlin raced through to the finals of last year’s event before a broken clutch system relegated him to runner-up status. In 2002, Coughlin won the race outright, adding his name to the track’s vaunted Walk of Fame.
“That runner-up finish and the overall performance we had at the Motorplex last season really propelled us to the ’08 championship,” Coughlin said. “We’ve come from behind before so we’re in familiar territory. We certainly prefer to be out front so we’ll be working overtime to get this JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt back on top, but we’re okay with where we’re at one race into this deal. There’s still plenty of time left.
“We really won’t be changing anything we do. We have a proven system that’s not only worked for us all year but has helped us win the last two world championships so one off race isn’t going to make us panic. The guys know what to do; now we need to go out there and execute.”
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