PHOENIX (Feb. 15) — Although he sits a lofty fifth in the early Full Throttle points, a position most drivers would be more than happy to occupy, back-to-back series champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. would just as soon hit the reset button on his 2009 campaign. But with 25th annual Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals looming this coming weekend at Firebird International Raceway, he has no choice but to press onward.

“I think we all wish the season started a little differently than it did,” Coughlin said of the rain-plagued Winternationals, which took six days to complete. “But we were all dealt the same hand. It would be great if we could hit rewind and start over, especially for the fans that weathered that storm out there, but we can’t do that.”

Racing a brand-new Todd Bevis-built Chevrolet Cobalt, Coughlin qualified sixth in the lone qualifying session at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona and reached the second round before being eliminated by Allen Johnson.

“We lost three qualifying rounds to rain but my guys responded like the champions that they are and really put together a nice package for me on a green racetrack,” Coughlin said. “As luck would have it, we were in the right lane for that one qualifying round and that most likely cost us a hundredth of a second or two.

“The first round of eliminations I had to abort the run but we advanced when our opponent, Larry Morgan, red-lighted. We drew AJ in Round 2, but we were back in the right lane. Still, we ended up having one of the quickest side-by-side races in history and he just beat us to the stripe; end of story.

“It’s always better when you can get all the runs in at a race, especially when you’re breaking in a new car. It just takes time to get a new car figured out and we’re still in the process of doing that. I know we’ve got a great hot rod here and our horsepower should keep us right up there at the top of the timing sheets, so I’m excited to get to Phoenix.”

Coughlin won the Phoenix race in 2000, the first year he claimed one of his four Pro Stock world titles. He plans to bring his No. 1 good luck charm with him this time through as his 12-year-old son Jeggie III will accompany him to the racetrack.

“Little Jeggie always brings me great luck so he’s coming with me,” the beaming father said. “He just turned 12 and we’re going to carry his birthday celebration over to the race and have some fun with the team.

“Any time you go into a race that you’ve won in the past it lifts you up a bit. Firebird can be a very good track when the weather cooperates and I’ve been on the Internet every day checking the forecast. It looks as though it’s going to be perfect. The fans should be in for a real treat because these Pro Stock cars were flying in Pomona and I don’t see why that won’t carry over to the Valley of the Sun.”

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