Guest Instructor- Jeg Coughlin, Jr.
Pro Stock racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. admits he's the forward-looking type, which serves him extremely well when he's streaking down the quarter mile behind the wheel of his 1,500-horsepower JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt. But after wrapping up his first back-to-back Pro Stock titles, his fourth championship in the NHRA's professional ranks, and his fifth world title overall, it's probably time for the 38-year-old from Delaware, Ohio, to reflect on his incredible career to date.
Already one of the best pure drag racers in the 57-year history of the National Hot Rod Association, Coughlin reached a plateau few have visited in 2008. There are now just two men ahead of him on the all-time list of Pro Stock champions -- Bob Glidden (10) and Warren Johnson (6). Furthermore, only five others have collected more titles across all four professional classes than the unassuming Coughlin.
In two decades, Coughlin has won an astonishing 54 national events in 86 final-round appearances, which once again ranks him among legends such as Joe Amato and Kenny Bernstein, as well as contemporaries like John Force, Greg Anderson, and Tony Schumacher, among others.
Simply stated, Coughlin is quickly becoming a candidate for one of the best straight-line racers ever.
A second-generation racer, Coughlin spent his formative years with his father Jeg Sr., who raced a number of different hot rods, including a Top Fuel dragster.
By the time he was completing his college studies, he was also collecting trophies himself, winning his first national event at his home track of National Trail Raceway at the age of 20 and his first world championship in Super Gas at just 22.
A few years later in 1997, the versatile racer became the first (and to date, only) racer to win national events in four separate categories -- Super Stock, Super Gas, Comp, and Pro Stock -- in the same year. He turned professional near the end of that season and quickly proved he belonged at the top level of drag racing by winning the SuperNationals in Houston in just his second race behind the wheel of a Pro Stock car.
Within a year, Jeg went from promising rookie to championship contender, finishing a respectable second in the 1998 points standings while earning membership in the exclusive Speed Pro 200-MPH Pro Stock Club.
By 2000, Jeg had established himself as a dominant force in Pro Stock, winning six of the first seven events and 10 races overall. He won the invitation-only Holley Dominator Duel for the second straight year and clinched the NHRA Pro Stock championship well before the end of the season.
Coughlin won the title again in 2002, claiming eight national event titles along the way in an exciting chase that featured him making one of the best second-half surges ever.
Never finishing lower than sixth in any of his other pro campaigns, Coughlin returned to the top of the drag racing world in 2007 with Victor Cagnazzi Racing. Competing under a brand-new playoff-style points system, the man many of his peers regard as the best Pro Stock racer in the class mastered one of the toughest fields ever assembled to win his third Pro Stock title on the last day of the season.
Then came 2008 and his first successful title defense, which ultimately came down to his JEGS.com race team giving him a car capable of carrying him to all the crucial wins he needed in the six-race playoffs.
The journey to being the best requires many steps. Jeg Coughlin Jr. already has taken many of them. Who knows how many more he'll take in 2009?
Driver, JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt
National Hot Rod Association – Pro Stock class
Hometown: Delaware, Ohio Height: 6-foot-0
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio Weight: 185 pounds
Age: 38 (June 23, 1970)
Family: Single, son Jeg III (Feb. 13, 1997)
Education: Bachelor of Business Administration from Ashland University (1993)
2009 Car: JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt
Crew Chief: Roy Simmons
Years racing: 22 (ten in professional ranks)
Pro wins/final rounds: 41/68 NHRA Pro Stock
Sportsman wins (class): 13/18 (Seven in Super Stock, Four in Super Gas,
one in Competition, and one in Top Dragster)
Career-best elapsed time: 6.554 seconds Richmond, VA 2008
Career-best mph: 210.01 mph Gainesville, Fla., 2007
• Four-time POWERade Pro Stock world champion (2000, 2002, 2007,2008)
• Sportsman world champion in Super Gas category (1992)
• NHRA Rookie of the Year (1998)
• Became 10th driver in NHRA's 57-year history to win 50 national events (2007)
• Two-time winner of Holley Dominator Duel (1999, 2000)
• Only driver in history to win national events in four categories in one season --
Pro Stock, Super Stock, Competition, and Super Gas (1997)
• Four-time NHRA Division 3 champion (Super Gas, 1992; Super Stock, 1994; Competition and Super Stock, 1997)
• Moroso 5-Day Champion (Super Pro, 2003)
• Two-time Hemi Shootout winner (Indianapolis, 2004; and Las Vegas, 2006)