Coughlin does it again with big win in St. Louis

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It’s becoming a familiar scenario. Four-time and defending Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. comes to an NHRA national drag race and takes home the trophy even though his Chevrolet Cobalt isn’t the quickest or fastest car on the property.

The current Full Throttle point leader did it again Sunday at Gateway International Raceway, just over the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis, by emerging from a mid-pack qualifying position to take home his 44th Wally trophy by clearly out-driving his rivals.

Making the feat all the more impressive is the fact Coughlin beat three drivers currently ranked in the top five, including a .001-second holeshot victory over fourth-place Greg Anderson in the semifinals, which may have spooked Anderson’s teammate Jason Line into a -.002 red light disqualification in the final

“There’s a bit of Lady Luck in there when you have margins of victory that small,” Coughlin said. "But I remember being at this race one year ago and we lost to Kurt Johnson my .0001 seconds, and it doesn’t get any closer than that. So it swings both ways and right now it’s going our way.

“We haven’t had the quickest car yet but we’re only a hundredth or two behind. I was looking at the data today and we had just about the slowest 60-foot and 330-foot times every round but at the top-end of the track we’re the fastest. That tells me we’re making plenty of horsepower; we just need to figure out the proper set-up. When we get it all together we should be flying.”

After qualifying eighth on the grid, Coughlin opened with a 6.628 at 209.33 mph to dismiss Johnny Gray’s aborted effort. He then used a nearly perfect .004-second start against top qualifier Greg Stanfield to take a 6.594- to 6.603-second victory.

In one of the biggest races of the still-young season, Coughlin faced off against Anderson. Knowing he needed a good effort at the tree, Coughlin produced a .020 second reaction time against Anderson’s .039-second start, and held on to win by .001 seconds. Coughlin crossed with a 6.593 at 208.62 mph to Anderson’s 6.575 at 209.59 mph.
The final pitted Coughlin against second-ranked Line, who had out-run Coughlin by just .001 seconds in his semifinal race, earning Line lane choice. But he blew the advantage almost immediately by jumping the light by two-thousandths of a second. Adding to the sting is the fact Line outran Coughlin down the strip, posting a 6.578 at 210.34 mph to Coughlin’s slower but winning 6.588 at 208.39 mph.

“It’s exciting to beat those guys because they’re the best of the best,” Coughlin said. “You know, this team has gelled so well over the last two years and we’ve managed to win the last two titles. The only real goal we had for this season was to repeat and to do that we felt like we needed more round wins early in the year. So far, we’ve managed to do just that and now we’re going to some of our favorite places on the schedule so hopefully we’ll just get better and better and keep this rolling.”

The win, Coughlin’s third of the year in five final-round showings, pads his lead to 49 points through seven races.


Sheldon O'Connell


May 06, 2009