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Keeping Pace

Defending champ Coughlin the hottest pro heading to U.S. Nationals

NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock driver, Jeg Coughlin. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (The Spokesman-Review)
NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock driver, Jeg Coughlin. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (The Spokesman-Review)

Jeg Coughlin knows how to tame the U.S. Nationals as he rides into this weekend's NHRA stop with plenty of momentum.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Indianapolis, Ind.-  Defending U.S. Nationals champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. enters this weekend's "Big Go" as the hottest driver in the Pro Stock ranks, having raced to two victories in three final-round appearances at the last three races on the NHRA schedule. With the 2010 Countdown to the Championship beginning at this event, Coughlin knows the timing couldn't be better for his race team.

"We wanted to make sure we started the playoffs on a roll so we're very pleased with our performance over the last six weeks," Coughlin said. "What's really exciting is that we ran great and won the race in Sonoma, which is down at sea-level, and then turned right around and had a runner-up result in Denver, which is a mile high. We followed that up with another win in Brainerd, so the guys are really showing their stuff right now.

"If you're a drag racer, you don't need anything to pump you up for Indy. This is the granddaddy of them all and has been since the start. Now that the NHRA has added the start of the Countdown into the mix it's going to be all-time. I'm getting excited just talking about it."

There's every reason to think Coughlin will continue to run well at ORP. He's a five-time winner at the track, adding Pro Stock wins in 2000 and 2002 to last year's title, and he bagged a Super Gas victory back in 1992. Coughlin also won the prestigious HEMI Challenge at this event.

"I'm a Division 3 racer so we've been racing Indy for many, many years," said Coughlin, a four-time winner in 2010. "I even remember coming here with my dad when he was racing because this was one of the tracks that was close enough to home (near Columbus, Ohio) that we could race all weekend and still drive home Sunday night so we didn't miss any school.

"This time Pop will be here helping us get the Chevrolet Cobalt ready for action. He'll also be assisting my brother Troy in Pro Mod, my nephew Troy Jr., who is racing in Super Comp, and my fiancé Samantha Kenny, whose also racing Super Comp. We're going to take in as much of the Indy experience as possible.

"Obviously, this is a big, big race for our team. It sets the tone for playoffs and with the Countdown only being 24 rounds of action, the pressure is ramped up quite a bit. We just need to keep doing what we've been doing and we should be in great shape."

Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.