Jeg Coughlin Jr. won his first Pro Stock race more than two decades ago, and his career resum is Hall of Fame worthy with six championships and 81 national event wins for starters. Given his vast experience, it’s hard to throw Coughlin a pitch that he can’t hit, so starting the Countdown to the Championship in eighth pace is hardly a cause for worry, and neither is a winless streak that extends back to the Phoenix race in late February. The way Coughin sees it, starting the playoffs in Reading is a bonus, since Maple Grove Raceway has historically been one of his best tracks. Coughlin has five wins at the historic facility, the most recent of which came in 2013, the same year he won his fifth Mello Yello Pro Stock title.
“The way the schedule shifted this year to start our six-race Countdown in Reading is perfect for me,” said Coughlin. “There couldn't be a better place for our JEGS.com Camaro to find a good late-season rhythm. We certainly know this facility well, all the way back to when I came here as a boy to watch my dad [Jeg Sr.] race, and I know you can't find more passionate and knowledgeable fans then the ones that pack this racetrack whenever we roll through.”
Coughlin was ranked as high as fifth following his win in Phoenix, but he slipped to eighth following the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the most recent event used to set the playoff field. That means that Coughlin needs to make up 80-points (the equivalent of four rounds) to overtake current leader Bo Butner. With 24 rounds of racing left this season, plus the additional bonus points awarded at Pomona, allow ample opportunities for a late-season charge.
“We certainly wish we were a few spots higher, or even No. 1, at the start, we do know we have a great team with all the pieces we need to win,” Coughlin said. “We need to really get after it and see what we can do to challenge for the championship. In the end, we also need to remember we're entertainers, so it's time to put on a yellow-and-black show for the rest of the season.”
Of Coughlin’s five Reading wins, four have come in Pro Stock, in 1999, 2008, 2009 and 2013. As a sportsman racer, Jeg Jr. won the 1996 Super Gas title at Maple Grove. Friday’s two runs in Maple Grove did nothing to diminish Coughlin’s enthusiasm. He was third quickest after the first session, and finished the day in the No. 5 spot with a 6.499, one of the quickest runs of his long career.
“We haven't celebrated a win under our canopy since the Phoenix race near the start of the season so we're pretty hungry,” Coughlin said. “I feel up to the task. I've been very pleased with my driving and if I can stay focused on doing my job and making the best passes possible each round, we'll always have a chance. We need to race hard, get aggressive, and try to whittle away at the 80-point deficit we have to Bo. That's a four-round lead, but we have time to catch up.”