RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 6) — Reigning NHRA champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. has developed a sound strategy for defending his current lead in the POWERade Pro Stock points — “We’re going to stay on the offensive,” he said empathically.

Considering he’s held the No. 1 ranking after two of the first three playoff events, Coughlin’s plan of attack is probably a good one. His Chevrolet Cobalt has been running strong for several races now and he managed to more than double his lead over his nearest rival at the last stop in Memphis, Tenn., from 14 to 32 points, despite the fact everyone in contention was running all-out to catch him.

“It’s a very exciting time of the year,” the 38-year-old Coughlin said. “And we’re certainly not going to let up at this point. Everyone at Victor Cagnazzi Racing has one goal in mind and that’s to win another championship. We’ve got a great chance to do that again this year but there is a lot of racing left. We’re going to keep pushing ourselves to the absolute limit until they tell us we’re the champs.”

Veteran racer Kurt Johnson is the closest to Coughlin in the standings, slightly more than a round and a half of elimination action behind the four-time champ. Former series titlists Jason Line and Greg Anderson are next, 55 and 63 points back, while Memphis winner Mike Edwards is fifth overall, 69 points in arrears. Even Coughlin’s teammate, Dave Connolly (-94) and Mopar pro Allen Johnson (-100) remain within striking distance.

“I can assure you that every one of those guys is still thinking about winning it all,” Coughlin said. “There is no relief. We just have to stay in championship race mode until the final pass of the season in Pomona (Calif.).”

With a premium on points over the final three events, Coughlin has become a big fan of the Weather Channel, eyeing the conditions forecast for Virginia Motorsports Park in case there’s a chance to set a national elapsed time record and pick up the 20 bonus points that go along with a record mark. The current record is 6.536 seconds.

“It could come into play,” Coughlin said of a record run. “It looks like we’re in for a real treat with the temperatures topping out in the low 70s. VMP is near sea level and if the barometer agrees with us, we might just have a chance to take a poke at that record.

“A lot of us had problems with our motors in Memphis and I can tell you the guys at our engine shop have been working around the clock to figure out what’s plaguing all these motors in Pro Stock. A lot of teams have experienced the same issues. The good news for us is they really feel like they’ve got a handle on it now and the reports I’m getting are that the numbers we’re seeing on the dyno are fantastic.

“We’re all running these things so hard. Everyone is pushing it to the extreme in an effort to win rounds and win races. Richmond is going to be an exciting race. I know my bloods pumping.”

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