ATLANTA (May 10) — Five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. experienced some rare moments at the last NHRA tour stop in St. Louis. Pulling to the starting line for a final-round race with Warren Johnson, Coughlin held a colossal six-hundredths of a second advantage, an edge rarely seen in the nip-and-tuck world of Pro Stock racing.

“Pro Stock is always so close,” said Coughlin, who had posted the quickest pass of the entire event in the semifinals. “It’s been that way my whole career, especially when you get to a final round. You never see a gap of more than a hundredth or two.

Unfortunately for Coughlin, something even more unusual than his performance advantage surfaced as Coughlin’s Chevrolet Cobalt inexplicably went quiet at the launch, silenced by a malfunction in the motor.

“It happens,” he said. “We’ve been lucky over the years in that it doesn’t occur very often, which I credit to the guys that make up this team. But things do break when you push them to the limit.

“Our saving grace was that I had just won the trophy in Top Dragster so that helped ease the disappointment. It allowed us to gather our thoughts and realize we had a great race, that the car was running strong, and that we were going to carry a lot of momentum into Atlanta.”

Coughlin has two bits of unfinished business to take care of this weekend at Atlanta Dragway. Not only does he want to atone for the St. Louis miscue, but he wants to advance his fortunes in the Deep South one more round than last year’s runner-up result.

“We’re going to a great racetrack where we’ve had some success in the past and I feel like we’re bringing a great racecar with us,” said Coughlin, who won Atlanta in 2000 (Pro Stock) and 1997 (Competition Eliminator). “I’m excited to race.”

The 63-time national event winner actually will have two chances to claim glory at the Southern NHRA Nationals as he plans to contest both Pro Stock and Stock. This event will mark the second time this year that Coughlin will race his Chevrolet Cobalt Pro Stocker and his Dodge Challenger Stock Eliminator entry.

“It’s a car we’re still figuring out,” Coughlin said of his new Dodge. “I like driving it and I’ve had the chance to race a lot of different cars already this season so I think we’ll be competitive.”

Prior to the event, Coughlin, his fiancé Samantha Kenny, his father Jeg Sr. and wife Sue, and team owners Victor and Brita Cagnazzi will visit Coca-Cola headquarters for the annual Night of Champions dinner.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to attend this event,” Coughlin said. “It’s always a highlight of the year to bring drag racing to the company that supports our series.”


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