PHOENIX (Feb. 21) — Four-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. has made a living at the starting line of NHRA drag races, routinely cutting down his opponents with superior reaction times at the Christmas Tree. He is considered by most to be one of the best pure drivers in the 59-year history of the sport.

But every once in awhile even the best get beaten, as was the case Sunday afternoon at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix when upstart Greg Stanfield stole away a holeshot victory from Coughlin with a slight headstart on the launch pad. It wasn’t that Coughlin’s .037-second reaction time was bad; it was that Stanfield’s .021-second jump was better. At the other end, Stanfield took the win with a 6.656 at 206.29 mph to Coughlin’s quicker but losing 6.649 at 201.31 mph in his Chevrolet Cobalt.

“We got beat,” Coughlin said. “We were definitely tracking him down and it would’ve been very, very close at the finish line but the car broke free down there and I almost wrecked. I thought I was going over for sure. Fortunately, I felt the rear end lifting up after I put it in fifth and I knew what that could lead to so I instinctively threw the ‘chutes. Just when I thought I was gonna flip the ‘chutes hit real hard and that pulled me straight.

“As close as the finish was, we might have pulled it out, but I might have been on the lid also.”

Coughlin estimates he deployed the parachutes 300 feet before the finish line and an onboard G-meter showed the initial tug took place 100 feet before the stripe.

A supporter of USA Bobsledding, Coughlin will now head to Vancouver to cheer on the U.S. men’s and women’s teams at the Olympic Games. Coughlin met and befriended several members of the squad via the annual Geoff Bodine NHRA vs. NASCAR Bobsled Challenge, which raises money to make top-flight, made-in-America sleds for USA Bobsledding.


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