PHOENIX (Feb. 25) — Superstar racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. picked up an early trophy at this weekend’s 23rd annual CSK NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, winning the Super Stock C-Modified trophy early Saturday morning. As it turned out, that was the best part of the weekend as he was dismissed early in both Super Stock and Pro Stock eliminations.

In the professional ranks, Coughlin did all he could as a driver, leaving the starting line against first-round opponent Kurt Johnson with a remarkable .008-second reaction time, well ahead of Johnson’s .050-second start. But the lead was short-lived as Coughlin’s Slammer’s Ultimate Milk Chevrolet Cobalt immediately went into severe tire shake, overpowering the racetrack as soon as he dropped the clutch.

“The car was too aggressive for the track that was there,” Coughlin said. “It’s frustrating, especially with all the guys from Slammers and Bravo! Foods here this weekend. I saw my teammate (Dave Connolly) run a 6.66 right in front of me and with the advantage we had off the line all I needed to do was get down the track with a reasonable number. Unfortunately, the car was a handful from the hit and this one got away from us.”

Johnson went on to post a 6.676 at 206.83 mph with Coughlin following behind with a struggling 7.048 at 202.58 mph.

“I know Victor (Cagnazzi, team owner), Tommy (Utt, crew chief), and the rest of the team will get the car sorted out in time for Gainesville,” Coughlin said. “We’re frustrated right now but that’s racing. All you can do is turn the page and get ready for the next event.”

In his Super Stock Chevrolet Cavalier, Coughlin lost in the second round to multiple-time world champion Dan Fletcher.

“Fletch is the best and it was a great race,” Coughlin said. “He just nipped us at the end there. No fault of the car or the driver I don’t think; just a straight-up drag race.”

Coughlin was a big part of ESPN2’s prerace show with a lengthy feature of him teaching ESPN announcer and former Top Fuel and Funny Car great Mike Dunn how to drive a Pro Stock car. Coughlin met Dunn at Mooresville Dragway near Charlotte, N.C., and coached Dunn through several burnouts and launches in the Slammers Chevy.

“He did a great job,” Coughlin said. “He mentioned how much there is to do in the cockpit. I think he has a new appreciation for what we do in the category. It was a lot of fun to do.”

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