POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 4) — It’s hard to start the season on a roll but that’s exactly the position reigning NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. finds himself in heading into this weekend’s 2008 season-opener in Pomona, Calif. Just days ago in Las Vegas, Coughlin used expert driving and a strong tune-up to log a victory at the Pontiac Showdown test session. Added to his title-clinching win last November at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Coughlin arrives at the birthplace of drag racing looking for his third win in a row.

“One year ago we came into Pomona with just three races under our belts,” Coughlin said. “We were basically a start-up team. But everyone on this crew is a veteran and I think that showed over the course of the year. To me, it’s not a surprise to be running the way we are at the moment because I see the dedication and determination of this group. It was awesome to win the title last year but we’re not done by any means.”

Coughlin and his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt rolled to numerous milestones in 2007. Aside from winning his third NHRA POWERade Pro Stock title of the last eight years and his fourth world title overall (he also won the 1992 Super Gas crown), Coughlin managed to win four races in eight final rounds during the season. The second to last win, which occurred in Brainerd, Minn., was Coughlin’s 50th overall, making him just one of seven professional racers to reach that plateau in 57 years of NHRA history.

“Our team owner, Victor Cagnazzi, grew up drag racing,” Coughlin said. “Over the years, he created a vision of what a team should be. Now his dream has become a reality.

“Victor knew you needed to build your own motors so he hired Joe Hornick and Stevie Johns to make his powerplants. He wanted an in-house chassis shop so he brought in Todd Bevis and his group. He knew you needed a strong administrative group. He knew you needed the proper talent at the racetrack and he went out and gathered some of the brightest minds in the sport. Obviously, it’s all paying off for him now.”

Together with teammate Dave Connolly, Victor Cagnazzi Racing collected 12 victories in 17 finals rounds last year. Coughlin finished No. 1 in the points, while Connolly finished third.

“It’s hard to argue with the success Victor has had,” said Coughlin, who has qualified for the last 63 races he’s entered. “The confidence you gain as a driver when you know you’ve got a team like this behind you is phenomenal.

“It’s exciting to start the year on a roll and it’s a nice bonus to have won the Pontiac Showdown last weekend because there were 19 cars there, including all of our chief rivals, and we were fortunate enough to come out on top. Plus, we’re pumped up about defending our race win there from last November. It’s time to get after it and we’re ready to go.”

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