POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9) – JEGS.com/Mopar driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. has a great chance to become just the eighth driver in NHRA history to win five championships in a professional category, but the veteran isn't looking at the big picture just yet.
Coughlin carried a fairly comfortable 71-point lead in the Pro Stock standings into this weekend's Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway. He then eliminated the worst-case scenario of failing to qualify by powering through all four time trials and into the No. 4 position on Sunday's elimination ladder.
Now, if Coughlin can beat teammate Vincent Nobile in the first round of eliminations Sunday morning, the championship will essentially be clinched.
"We're looking to get out and put down a really good run and turn the win light on," Coughlin said. "We've got a lot of racing to do but I love racing here at Pomona so I say bring it on. I've been guilty of saying how much I love Pomona a little too much here recently, but these fans really fire me up, and there's a lot of neat stuff at stake. We'd love to perform well tomorrow, and let the rest take care of itself."
Coughlin's Dodge Avenger has been consistently fast this weekend, with his best run of 6.545 seconds at 211.43 mph. His other three passes were within .011 seconds of that, and the JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge has been in the top three in all four qualifying sessions.
"We've been very, very consistent," Coughlin said. "We had a pair of .55s and a pair of .54s, in that order. I've been driving well and hitting the Tree pretty well, and I'm ready to do some battle tomorrow."
Coughlin was third-quickest in three of the four sessions and was No. 2 in Q2.
"Pomona's one of those unique races where we've got three days of qualifying instead of two," Coughlin said. "It's a little different rhythm, but it felt good to get into Saturday and make two runs. We were third-best on both sessions today and look to have a great car going into gameday tomorrow."
Coughlin has won four races and reached eight finals this season. He took over the points lead by winning at Reading, Pa., in the fourth of the six Countdown to the Championship races.
Nobile qualified No. 13 with a top pass of 6.583 seconds at 210.37 mph.