NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Jeg Coughlin Jr: 'It’s time to go. Every round will be as important as the last'

With a dominating series of qualifying performances, Jeg Coughlin Jr has shown no mercy in 2020. As we prepared to return to racing, “the Natural” also returns to his final year of championship-seeking Pro Stock racing. Is the pressure on? Far from it. Coughlin is as cool as ever. This is one of a series of interviews with the top drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock.
03 Jun 2020
NHRA National Dragster staff
Return to Racing
Jeg Coughlin Jr Pro Stock Camaro

JEG COUGHLIN JR.| JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro

Current points position: 2nd  | Best season e.t. to date: 6.522

Early-season report card: The 2020 season began with a banner event in Pomona for Jeg Coughlin Jr. From Q1 on Friday through E4 on Sunday, fans saw “the Natural” in action as he was the No. 1 qualifier, and held the quickest elapsed time in every round on race day (6.542, 6.546, 6.535, and 6.522). His stellar performance was preceded by a press conference to announce that 2020 was his final year contending for a Pro Stock championship. Fans were saddened by the news. Competitors were relieved.

Looking back: “Pomona couldn’t have gone off with a more storybook start. Then you fast-forward a couple of weeks into Phoenix and much of same positives were going for the yellow-and-black car. We were extremely fast through qualifying and captured the pole again there. All the while the rest of the Pro Stock contingent were nipping away at our performance we had enjoyed in Pomona and the early stages of Phoenix – primarily my teammates Erica [Enders] and Alex [Laughlin] whose cars really turned the corner.”

“I knew the stage was not likely to be the same as it was in Pomona. We were still on offense, but aggressively defensive and trying to make good quality runs behind the wheel. Very few times in my career have I had a couple hundredths advantage over my opponent for more than one round throughout an event. We could see that diminishing in Phoenix. We ran well in round one where we were second quickest (Coughlin’s 6.535 to Enders’ 6.532), but made an error in one of our adjustments and had one of the spark plugs close up on us in round two next to Alex Laughlin. Right about the time I let the clutch out I could tell the engine didn’t sound right, and by the time I got to the top of low gear the engine was missing and missing. My head was on the dashboard, my heart was in my stomach, and I saw Alex just jet out there. Erica went on to win the race, and for Elite to sweep the first two events was really fantastic.”

Looking ahead: “It’s been almost three months since we’ve been in the cars, but I feel like we’ll be able to pick up right where we left off from behind the wheel. I’ve certainly had time to reflect and mentally feel like I’m building. When we do return to racing, we’ll feel like we’re coming back from a long off-season, but we’ll be ready to hit the ground running.”

Shop talk: “We’ve been busy, thankfully, with our Jegs business and flooding our energies into our customers. During all of this, a lot of us have had some time on our hands, and what makes many of us happy is our passion in the garage. Like many of our friends, my garage at home has never been cleaner.”

The final word: “I think at this point [our first race back begins] the Countdown. It’s time to go. Every round will be as important as the last. That provides an opportunity to elevate the game, to push where it hurts, keep running hard, keep running fast, and turning on win lights. That’s my goal. Rickie Jones is hungry and aggressive and we’ve got a great car and a great playbook. When we hit the track, we’ll feel very fortunate to be able to do what we do.”