Coughlin clinches 2013 Pro Stock championship
Sunday, November 10, 2013
by John Jodauga, National DRAGSTER Associate Editor
Coca-Cola's Al Rondon, left, and NHRA's Tom Compton congratulated Jeg Coughlin Jr. on winning his fifth NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock world championship.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. clinched the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock world championship in round two of the Auto Club NHRA Finals when the only driver who still had a mathematical chance of overtaking him in the points race, Jason Line, lost to his Summit Racing teammate Buddy Perkinson in a 6.56 to 6.68 contest. Line’s car got loose early in the run and veered out of the groove, which slowed his elapsed time considerably.
Coughlin then made his victory lap in the next pair but in unusual fashion: He red-lighted by .001-second. His opponent, teammate Allen Johnson, the 2012 champion, got the win with a 6.566 to advance to the semi's. Coughlin’s losing time was 6.560.
“This championship is extremely special without question," said Coughlin. "When I stepped away after the 2010 season, I wasn’t sure how long it would be before I would return. Fortunately, we were able to make a deal with Mopar for 2011. The results of that season were not what we hoped for, but after getting together with Roy and Allen Johnson at J&J Racing, we had the ingredients we needed for a title. A.J. has a great team with Mark Ingersoll, Jim Yates, and the rest of the crew. We were in eight finals this year and got half of them, which is sensational because Pro Stock has become so tough. This was the tightest and one of the most intense championship races I’ve ever been involved with, and it certainly ranks right up there with the previous titles.
“When I saw that I was going to run my teammate Vincent Nobile in the first round, I thought, ‘Oh man, here we go again,’ because he’s certainly had my number this year [with four wins against Coughlin in six races], and he beat me in all three of the finals we ran against each other. But it was actually a good thing that it happened because it made me come up there with my A game. We certainly wanted to win the second round [against A.J.], but that was right after the title was clinched, and maybe I was a little bit too relaxed.
“We'll certainly be celebrating at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series banquet on Monday night, and then we’ll head home and begin making our plans for next year.”
This marks the fifth time that Coughlin has earned the Pro Stock title (2000, 2002, 2007, and 2008). This year’s championship campaign was a complete turnaround from his disappointing season of 2012, when he returned to the sport after sitting out the 2011 season. He produced just one runner-up finish and one runner-up effort without a victory or any No. 1 qualifying performances in 23 races.
Coughlin was operating with his own in-house engine-development program at the time and decided at the conclusion of the campaign to join forces with the J&J Racing team of driver Johnson and father/engine builder Roy, who had just won the 2012 Pro Stock title.
The move produced quick dividends. He was runner-up at the season-opening Winternationals and in Gainesville before scoring his first win of the year in Topeka. Coughlin then scored another regular-season victory in Chicago and finished third in the standings prior to the Countdown to the Championship.
Coughlin quickly took command of the Countdown competition by winning the opening event in Charlotte, then followed with another triumph at the fourth event in Reading, which moved him into first place.