JEGGIE JUST MISSES RARE DOUBLE-WIN WEEKEND; BROTHER TROY STORMS TO SEMIFINALS
ST. LOUIS (May 2) -- Five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. came very close to a rare double-win Sunday in St. Louis, finishing just short of doing something that hadn't been accomplished in 18 years.
Racing in both Pro Stock and Top Dragster at the 14th annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, Coughlin expertly raced his way through the elimination fields of both categories to put himself in position to duplicate Pat Austin's last Pro/Sportsman double-win in 1992.
In the finals, Coughlin got the ball rolling with a near-perfect victory against Top Dragster finalist Mallori McCullar-Rodge, leaving with a .010-second reaction time and running dead-on his index with a 6.600 in his brother John's JEGS.com rail.
All he needed to do at that point was beat Warren Johnson in the Pro Stock final, and he entered the contest a prohibitive favorite after running low ET of the weekend (6.607) in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Johnson hadn't won a race in more than four years.
But fate wasn't on Coughlin's side as his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt barely moved when he dropped the clutch, leaving Coughlin and crew wondering what happened as Johnson sailed away for his 97th career victory.
"I guess it just wasn't meant to be," Coughlin said. "We sure wanted to pull off the double, no doubt, but I'm not going to say I'm disappointed because winning in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series in the Top Dragster was pretty darn awesome. I love bracket racing and it's so tough to win in any of the Lucas Oil categories.
"We thought we'd have a great chance against W.J. but we broke a rocker arm (in the motor) and we were done. It was still a great effort by the Pro Stock team and we'll just regroup for Atlanta and do our best there."
Aside from taking out McCullar-Rodge in the Top Dragster final, Coughlin also beat Steve Cohen, Dean McIlvain, J.R. Lobner, and Lynn Ellison on the day.
In Pro Stock, Coughlin eliminated Greg Stanfield, Greg Anderson, and Erica Enders.
Jeg's older brother Troy had a great showing himself in the JEGS.com Pro Mod racecar, beating past series champion Jay Payne and top gun Tony Pontieri before bowing to Dennis Radford in the semifinals. Coughlin's best run of the weekend came against Pontieri when he posted a 5.963 at 236.55 mph.
"The whole team is just gelling together," Troy said. "We're making better runs, for sure. Like I said at the last race, I needed to not make mistakes and the team needed to not make mistakes. We've cut that down 90 percent. That showed in our performance today in winning a couple of rounds and making it to the semifinals.
"Every time you make it to the finish line you learn so much about how to do things. You get yourself back into the groove. It also gives the guys tuning the car great data to work off of for the next run.
"We're already looking forward to going to Atlanta. All the engines are still in one piece, which is nice. We're ready to rock and roll."
Both Jeg and Troy will next race May 14-16 at Atlanta Dragway.