ATLANTA (April 15) — Four-time Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. arrives at Atlanta Dragway in top form after winning the NHRA’s last stop in Las Vegas and assuming his regular spot at the top of the Full Throttle points.

At first glance, it would appear the 43-time national event winner has the best hot rod in the class. After all, he’s won two races in three final-round appearances this year, as well as the last two world titles in a row. Yet the facts are that Coughlin’s Chevrolet Cobalt has been slightly off this season, with the team averaging just a fifth-place start on race day. The difference has been Coughlin’s driving, which has been almost perfect in eliminations.

By their very nature, Pro Stock cars are touchy and teams push them to the limit every run. Yet, with all the millions of things going on, it’s commonplace to see races decided by hundreds and even thousandths of a second.

“Our Cobalt has been solid all year but we’re definitely in a mindset it could be better and the numbers bear that out,” the 38-year-old Coughlin said. “With these cars you just have to finesse them a little bit to find that perfect set-up. It’s not very often that someone makes wholesale changes. When you’re chasing those thousandths of a second, every tiny move can seem really big.”

As such, instead of resting on their early season accomplishments, Coughlin and crew decided to spend three days fine-tuning their racecar at zMax Dragway at Concord near Charlotte, N.C., the home base of team owner Victor Cagnazzi and his organization.

“We’re very encouraged,” Coughlin said. “The changes we’re trying to our raceday set-up appear to be working. We got an indication of that in Las Vegas and we’ve reinforced our decisions at zMax with this test. We’re certainly making progress.

“Testing in Charlotte was a great move because the guys from Cagnazzi Racing, the ones in the engine department and chassis shop who don’t normally have time to travel to the national events, were able to come over and participate,” Coughlin said. “We even had one point where we broke something and we were able to zip over to the shop, fix the part, and have it back in the car in a matter of a couple of hours. You normally can’t do that.”

Aside from his strong test and his recent ascension to the world’s No. 1 ranking, Coughlin also is excited about the Atlanta race for a special prerace fete thrown by series sponsor Coca-Cola.

“Each year on the Thursday before this race the fine folks from the Coca-Cola Company invite all the champions to a special dinner at the World of Coca-Cola,” Coughlin said. “It’s a great deal and a real honor to be able to participate. I’m very much looking forward to spending the evening with the top executives and once again expressing our gratitude for their support of our series. Their participation through their Full Throttle brand is vital for our overall success and it’s important to let them know how we feel.”

Coughlin is a two-time winner at Atlanta Dragway, having won this event in 1997 in Comp Eliminator and again in 2000 in Pro Stock.


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