Jeg Coughlin Jr. has won Indy four times including the Super Gas title in 1992 and three Pro Stock victories in 2000, 2002, and 2009. He also won the Dodge Hemi Challenge at Indy in 2004, so he’s very familiar with the thrill of winning “The Big Go”. Four wins puts Coughlin in a very exclusive club of multi-time champions at NHRA’s marquee event but it’s been ten years since his last victory and Coughlin certainly thinks it’s time to add a fifth title to his already impressive resumé. Coughlin’s chances for a win figure to be as good as anyone else’s. He’s the No. 7 qualifier, but he’s just .027-second behind the time set by pole-sitter Bo Butner. Coughlin was incredibly consistent in qualifying behind the wheel of his Elite Motorsports-powered Camaro with five runs between 6.586 and 6.622. He was never far behind the leaders in any session, which provides a boost of confidence heading into final eliminations.
“The hard work has been done, as far as qualifying goes, and now it's time to have some fun and try to win the ‘Big Go,’” Coughlin said. “This is the one we all dream about. We've made good runs. We were trying to move the needle a little each day. We made little adjustments here and there after Friday's lone session and put our best foot forward as far as numbers go on Saturday and ended up seventh. We were fourth quickest in both sessions today after the rain, so better in relation to the field, and our teammate Erica Enders was second quickest of Q4 and quickest of Q5 today. Of course, we have her data to work from as well as ours, so we like where we are going into race day.”
The first challenge for Coughlin is Norwalk winner Chris McGaha, who qualified No. 10 on the strength of a 6.596 at 208.52 mph. Coughlin and McGaha have not raced this season. The last time that Coughlin and McGaha squared off was the 2018 Epping race, and the win went to McGaha via a very small holeshot. Needless to say, Coughlin would love to return the favor on NHRA’s biggest stage.
“It looks like we'll have some decent cloud cover early so round one will be really good,” said Coughlin. “You already know everyone will be throwing their best effort out there. It gets a little warmer after that, so it'll be interesting to see who plays it best.”
Coughlin entered Indy as the No. 8 ranked driver in the Pro Stock class, and he’s already locked up a playoff spot, and a top ten finish for the 18th time in his illustrious career. With some race-day success at Indy, Coughlin could potentially pass Deric Kramer for seventh or teammate Enders for the No. 6 spot. Should the planets align correctly, Coughlin could enter the six-race Countdown playoff as high as No. 5. In his most recent championship season in 2013, Coughlin was the No. 3 seed after Indy.
“Obviously, you want to finish the regular season in the best position possible but in all honestly, you just need a place to strike from,” said Coughlin. “Those last six races are the most important ones of the season but before we get to that, we’re going to focus on Indy to see if we can make something good happen today.”
Coughlin will also be keeping an eye on his nephew, Troy Coughlin Jr., who is one of the leading contenders in the Top Alcohol Dragster class and longtime family friend, Jeff Taylor, who is driving the JEGS Mail Order Dodge Challenger Drag Pak in Super Stock.