THE MODERATOR: This week marks the final race of the Countdown to the Champions playoff round, the Countdown to Four. The top four drivers in each professional category at the end of the event will advance to the next stage of the Countdown, the Countdown to One. The two race shootout for POWERade World Championships which begins October 25th through 28th at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and ends the following week, November 1st through 4th at the Auto Club NHRA finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

THE MODERATOR: Jeg is the driver of the Chevy Cobalt. He’s a former POWERade series champion, winning in 2000 and 2002. Jeg has wins in Chicago, Bristol and Brainerd this season, as well as three runner up finishes and is currently sitting in that fourth and final spot in the points standings. Jeg, you’ve had tremendous success this season but haven’t had the finishes you’d like to have during the Countdown playoffs, while your teammates Dave Connolly and rival Greg Anderson have been dominating the Pro Stock circuit during these past four races. They’ve already clinched their spot in the Countdown to Four. What do you need to do to make sure you can earn that fourth spot before the week’s end?

JEG COUGHLIN: Well, it’s going to take some great racing. Richmond is always a great event to come to, and as you mentioned, we haven’t had quite the finishes the last I think three or four races since the Countdown had started. It’s going to take some great racing.

We did some testing this past weekend down in Georgia, which should prove to give us a little more confidence going into Richmond. Ironically Richmond is the race that I started back in the Pro Stock last year with Cagnazzi Racing, so that will be exciting to kind of have a one year reunion there, and the reward we’re looking for is to have a great outing. No question we have an extremely fast car and a great team, we just need to pull the strings together on that and get out there and race like we know how.

But I heard Tony mentioning earlier, there’s a lot of pressure going on, but we thrive on that and should prevail well.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll now open it up to questions for Jeg.

Q. Good drivers and good champions like yourself often have to dig deep, and when you feel like in a season when you have dug deep, what’s the hardest thing for you to do to keep that thing going?

JEG COUGHLIN: Really just not make any mistakes. Again, as I mentioned, we’ve been fortunate to win championships in the past, and to deal with pressures of like we’re facing here to the Countdown to One. The new points format is extremely exciting. You look at the top four professional classes in POWERade drag racing and you’ve got a lot of points battles going on for the Countdown to One, and I think that’s exciting.

On the flipside of that, you’ve got the teams, since then until now mainly focusing on the Countdown to One. You know, it just adds a whole new element to the sport, and on the team side, as I was mentioning, my teammate Dave Connolly has just been on a tear. He’s won the last four races. We won the race prior to that, so that makes it five for Cagnazzi Racing. So we know we’ve got all the ingredients, we’ve just kind of had some poor luck and maybe made some bad decisions and just been getting outrun.

We look to Richmond, and to your point, we have dug deep. We took all last week and prepared the car for a test session down in Valdosta, Georgia, and the car came out responding extremely well. We’re also partnering with Goodyear to test some new tires for some enhancements to the pro stock tires we’ve been running in the ’07 season for 2008, and we used that test, as well, to kind of hone in on some of our inefficiencies, and I think we found that.

Meantime it certainly doesn’t hurt me. I’ve been guilty of just racing the POWERade races and not doing a whole lot of testing with Cagnazzi Racing. Dave Connolly has done most of the testing for the team, as I have duties here in Delaware, Ohio. In that respect I was happy to get behind the wheel and get some runs, and I’ll tell you, I’m ready to go.

I’m very confident in myself and in the entire team. You know, for us to secure a spot in the Countdown to One, I’m in fourth place, again, I think I’m within one round of third and within two rounds of sixth. That’s the kind of points battle we’re dealing with. I think we’ve got four of us, maybe five, vying for the last two positions for the Pro Stock Countdown to One Championship.

The digging deep point is there, and we’re going to have to get out and perform now, but that’s the fun part.

Q. You said that the performance has to be there this weekend; this is the do or die round to continue to advance. Has Richmond been a good track for you performance wise in the past?

JEG COUGHLIN: It sure has. We were under the clock a year ago as I mentioned, it was my first race back in Pro Stock full time, and I think we had a rainout and came back a couple weeks later and Mother Nature was very kind to the Pro Stock cars. We had more 6.50 runs in one weekend than I think we’ve had since then. But been fortunate, I think I’ve won there for sure one time, maybe twice in my career, prior to the hiatus and the tour leaving Richmond.

But being back there, I’m excited and I like the feel of the facility, the track. It’s a nice track. The fans are Pro Stock fans, as well, so that drives a little extra energy in us, and I’m looking forward to it.

Q. You mentioned that your teammate Dave Connolly does most of the testing for the team. You’ve done less than he has. I’m sure he shares all that information with you?

JEG COUGHLIN: Yeah, I think we’ve got an excellent two car team. Tommy Utt, the crew chief on Dave Connolly’s car, and Victor Cagnazzi overseeing Tommy and that Torco Race Fuels team and Roy Simmons overseeing the car, all the information is certainly right at our fingertips, and don’t think we haven’t been trying to get the car to be a little more efficient as Dave’s car has been the last four or five races.

Nothing to worry about, we’ve just kind of put ourselves in a position we’d like not to be in ideally, but for the fans and the media it’s a great situation and a great opportunity to talk about the pressures of points championships prior to our champion being crowned. Not only in Pro Stock, but as I mentioned, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Funny Car and Top Fuel. It’s a great time for NHRA drag racing.

Q. Before I get to the championship, can I get a comment from you regarding the passing of Wally Parks?

JEG COUGHLIN: Certainly Wally has been the icon for NHRA drag racing for forever, and as a kid growing up in the sport, it was very common to see Wally and Barbara at the national events that my dad raced at. I had quite a relationship at many different levels with Wally, and as I grew into the sport and was fortunate to win my first national event, or second national event or third national event, it was quite often that Wally would be present in the winner’s circle shots, and I’m referring to the early ’90s.

My father’s dad, Ed Coughlin, was good friends with Wally, and seeing them talk over the years was neat, without question. I could probably ramble for several minutes on this topic, but the vision that Wally had for NHRA drag racing and getting racing legitimate and off the streets and into a safe place was just phenomenal. To see the growth of the NHRA in its entirety is very exciting. What a visionary and a great man. I’m happy to say that I knew him. I can’t say I knew him extremely well like many, but certainly I’ve enjoyed the fruits of his labors and many that were under his leadership.

Q. Now to the championship, when you and Dave have been so strong throughout the season, is this kind of a changeover do you think in leadership? Not leadership, but power in Pro Stock?

JEG COUGHLIN: Well, we certainly hope so. The KB Racing team with Greg Anderson and Jason Line, they’ve coupled to win the last four POWERade Championships and definitely have been without question the leaders in Pro Stock.

When Victor Cagnazzi started his Pro Stock efforts three or four years ago, his goal was to build a championship team. That’s where we’re at exactly. Dave and I have coupled to win I think 10 of the 20 races that we’ve had thus far in 2007. We’d like to see that tradition continue, and there’s a lot of opportunities that don’t really surface visibly where we’ve had bad races and not won the race or not won the round, and same for many other teams.

I think timing has a lot to do with it, and we’ve been on the good end of a lot of those timing situations this year, and maybe some of our competitors haven’t. It’s not something we’re hanging our hat on, but we are proud to have reached some of the milestones we have in the 2007 season, and we’ve got three strong races left and we’d like nothing more than to bring a Pro Stock trophy back to Morrisville, North Carolina, under the Cagnazzi Racing name and hopefully under the name.

Q. Does it help being a Pro Stock team located in NASCAR country? Is there an advantage there?

JEG COUGHLIN: It certainly doesn’t hurt. You know, there’s a lot of technology within a 20 mile radius of Morrisville, technology and intellect with people and technology and a lot of the products that they’ve worked with in the NASCAR world. People obviously have relationships, as do a lot of our engineers Cagnazzi Racing has relationships with other forms of motorsports, not only within drag racing but in the Nextel Cup Series, also, in Formula 1, Indy and IRL leagues, as well. So to see some of those technologies well, first of all, to a point, yes, it definitely helps. The R & D budget in North Carolina probably surpasses anything outside of Formula 1. That’s a pretty staggering number.

And NHRA can feed off of that, and we had fed off of that through technology, resources, the parts and people, directly. It definitely helps. It has helped I think four or five of our engineers and technicians have come out of circle track backgrounds and within Nextel Cup.

THE MODERATOR: We’re going to let Jeg go. Thanks for participating in the call.

JEG COUGHLIN: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on today. We’ll see you all this weekend.


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