HOUSTON (April 21) — Six-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr.'s success at Royal Purple Raceway in the Houston suburb of Baytown is well chronicled, with four Pro Stock victories at the venerable Southeast Texas speedplant. Now the driver of the JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart is hoping the time is right to ring up No. 5 and get his 2014 title defense fully off the ground.
"We've had an extremely fast racecar all year," Coughlin said. "Yet for whatever reason, our timing has just been a little off. We're qualifying well, setting career-best numbers, even taking the pole at one race, yet come race day we're falling on the wrong side of races that get decided by just fractions of a second.
"The sport of drag racing, and Pro Stock in particular, can be brutal. Over the course of time, I know we've taken the greater share of those close-call races, and I'm sure it will tip back our way real soon. There's no doubt we're fully capable of winning every race we enter and Houston will be no exception."
Currently ninth in the world rankings, Coughlin has advanced out of the first round at four of the first five races of the NHRA season. Unfortunately, he hasn't made it past Round 2 at any point, dropping head-to-head matchups by agonizingly small margins.
Houston should be a great place to finally advance to the later rounds. Coughlin scored his first professional-level win here in 1997 and later won the Pro Stock trophy again in 1998, 2000 and 2010. He also reached the final round in 2009 and was No. 1 qualifier at Royal Purple Raceway in 2007 and 2013.
"Throw in the win we had here in Super Stock in 1994, in what I believe was just my second race in that car, and it's obvious this track has been very kind to us," Coughlin said. "I'd love to rekindle our professional romance this weekend.
"We're not really panicking or trying anything different. We're not doing anything differently than when we won it all last year. As I mentioned, races decided by a few thousandths of second are just as close as they sound. We know what we're doing and we'll be just fine. I'm ready to race in Houston and move forward."
Professional qualifying sessions are scheduled to begin at 4 and 6:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:30 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Pro Stock eliminations start at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry a qualifying package from 5-7 p.m. CT, Saturday, and eliminations from 6-9 p.m. CT, Saturday. Live timing results can be attained at NHRA.com.