Aside from the national event itself and a chance to improve on his NHRA-best, 109-point lead in the world rankings, Coughlin will compete in the 25th annual K&N Horsepower Challenge, a special race-within-a-race for Pro Stock’s top eight drivers.
“I love race day; it’s what I get up for,” said Coughlin, who turns 39 a few days before the race begins. “To have two chances to win this weekend, in my home state, no less, obviously makes this a very big event for us. I can’t wait to get started.”
Coughlin has raced to seven finals in the first 11 races of the season and has put together a 32-6 record in eliminations. In his seven previous K&N Horsepower Challenge events, Coughlin has won twice (1999 and 2000), including a memorable victory over his older brother Troy in 2000.
“It’s tough to win any race at this level but the K&N Horsepower Challenge has to be one of the hardest of them all because they only invite the top eight drivers from the previous 12 months,” Coughlin said. “Everyone in the field is stout and every race feels like the final round at Pomona. It’s that intense.
“We have some great momentum coming into Norwalk. We’ve been fortunate enough to win the last two national events and the guys are working so well together, including the support group back at Victor (Cagnazzi’s) shop in Charlotte. Everything is clicking right now and it’s a lot of fun to go to the track.”
There should be a large and familiar yellow-and-black cheering section rooting Coughlin along all weekend. His family’s business, JEGS Mail Order, is based in the Columbus suburb of Delaware, Ohio, and many of the 250-plus employees are planning to make the drive up to Northern Ohio to support Coughlin’s efforts. There also is a contingent of people from Ohio State University involved with the JEGS Foundation Racing For Cancer Research project that will be in attendance and there are always a lot of friends around.
“Hopefully, we can give all of our family and friends coming up something to scream about,” Coughlin said. “I had a chance to do some bracket racing this past off weekend in Indy at the JEGS U.S. Open Championship and although I didn’t finish in the money I really feel like I sharpened up my driving skills quite a bit. The top hitters in the country were racing and I ran into a few of them. They’ll keep you sharp, trust me.
“We’re ready to go. Friday can’t get here soon enough.”
Information regarding JEGS Mail Order can be found atwww.jegs.com and for media/fan resources checkout www.teamjegs.com .