Among the best racers to triumph in Pomona, six-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. sits poised to continue his Southern California success during the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals.
Looking to leave the season finale with the Wally, Coughlin’s JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart looked consistently fast throughout all four qualifying sessions. With his best time of 6.534 at 211.89 mph occurring during Q3, Coughlin secured the No. 4 spot on the eliminations ladder.
“Going into the last day of the season we really made four good runs,” Coughlin said. “Both runs today we were looking to get maybe a little bit more out of them than we did. The car moved in opposite lanes both runs; in the left lane it went left a little bit and in the right lane it went right a little bit.
“I think (crew chief) Adam (Hornberger) and the guys will do a good job to navigate that part of it, and we’ll wait to see what Mother Nature shows up with for tomorrow.”
Facing off against No. 13 Vieri Gaines during round one of eliminations, Coughlin is confident in his chances of getting the job done one more time this season and for the seventh time in Pomona.
“I like the way we’re running going into game day,” Coughlin said. “I feel great behind the wheel and that’s what it takes to win in Pro Stock. We’ve got a great team and are feeling good. Let’s get it done now.”
Already accumulating 74 total national event wins and 99 Pro Stock final-round appearances, the six-time champion is looking forward to his chance at continuing to make history and notch those statistics up a mark.
“Stats are cool when you hear them spoken like that,” Coughlin said. “We’d like to reach that centennial mark of final-round appearances but would love nothing more than to light up that win light and send the year out in firework style, all while having a good time doing it.”
Eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday, with both qualifying and elimination action broadcast on ESPN2 on tape-delay basis.
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The battle for the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock championship is going right down to the final day of what has been a whirlwind of a season, and Summit Racing campaigner Jason Line is in the fight of his life for the third world title of his career at the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals. Line, of Mooresville, N.C., gathered bonus points en route to his third No. 1 qualifier award of the season and the 38th of his career, and the top spot came with enough qualifying marks to narrow the gap between himself and the biggest trophy of the year.
“Coming here, we know we had to minimize the gap,” said Line, who is now 19 points – less than a round – behind the points leader, Erica Enders-Stevens. “I wasn’t counting on being No. 1, but we were, and that has made this a really great day. It’s pretty exciting for all of us over here at KB Racing, and our Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro made a really good run that was necessary for us to stay in the championship hunt. Qualifying was a lot of fun, we were going back and forth, and now the ladder for tomorrow could set up for a phenomenal day. If she and I race in the finals, the winner of the race wins the championship. To me, that’s about as cool as it gets.”
Line earned two bonus points in his first run down the racetrack at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with a 6.532-second pass at 211.46 mph, and he ended the first day of qualifying in the No. 3 spot following a 6.537 at 211.33 that was good for one more bonus mark for the pile.
Saturday opened crisp and cool, but the sun moved in and out from behind the clouds and made it an interesting game as crew chiefs worked to put their finger on the right combination. KB Racing crew chief Rob Downing hit the nail on the head with a stout 6.517 at a big speed of 212.19 mph, and Line was piloting a rocket with his Summit Racing Camaro, reeling in three more bonus points and securing the No. 1 position. Although he had trouble and slowed in the final session, mustering 6.918 pass, Line held on to the low qualifier award. He will race part timer Jeff Isbell in the first round on Sunday.
“If you want to be the champion, you have to mow over everyone. It’s not an easy thing to do – there is nobody out here that’s easy to beat,” said Line. “But I’m excited about tomorrow and about the way the day turned out. It’s a heck of an opportunity for everyone that works on our Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro. This is a great thing. This is the way it’s supposed to be, but it very rarely comes down to this situation. She’s on the opposite side of the ladder, she’s less than one round ahead, and hopefully, the fight for the 2014 Pro Stock championship will be one for the ages. It’s going to be cool.”
Greg Anderson and the white Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro are all warmed up and ready for the final Sunday of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The four-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion ultimately qualified in the No. 8 position and will race Dave Connolly in the first round, while teammate Jason Line goes to battle for a seventh season title for KB Racing and Team Summit.
“Jason and I ended up on the same side of the ladder, and that obviously isn’t what we wanted to happen – but we’re just going to have to race as hard as we can tomorrow with our Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaros and hope for the best-case scenario,” said Anderson. Line is just 19 points – less than a single round – behind points leader Erica Enders-Stevens.
Anderson’s first three qualifying rounds were less than hoped for, producing a best time of 6.848, but in the final session his Summit Racing Camaro picked up the pace with a much improved 6.547 at 211.89 mph. Anderson moved all the way up to eighth and in doing so was awarded a bonus qualifying point as the third-quickest pass of the session.
“The best case for tomorrow is that Jason and Erica race each other in the final round. That would be a dream day for us and certainly a dream day for Pro Stock – and possibly the coolest finish to a Pro Stock championship ever,” said Anderson. “Everyone is going to be talking about Pro Stock tomorrow. It’s going to be fun.”
Jason Line is continuing his current super-fast trend at the 60th anniversary Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and earned the role of provisional No. 1 qualifier on the first day of the prestigious event held at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The driver of the blue Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro has qualified second or better in three of the last four races, beginning with a low qualifier award – his first of the season – at the challenging Mile-High Nationals in Denver.
Line raced to a 6.623-second pass at 208.78 mph that was quickest and fastest in the opening session of Pro Stock. Line has a history of speed at the U.S. Nationals and is the track record holder for his 6.538 clocked at the event in 2011.
“It feels really good to get a good run under our belt; both the Summit Racing cars ran pretty sporty – and the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is a good place to be fast in a Chevy Camaro,” said Line. “We were just trying to make a good, safe run, but not so safe that it was slow. It was a nice run, but there’s a little left. She could have been faster.”
Line is in an unusual position during qualifying at Lucas Oil Raceway as he will compete in the weather-delayed semifinal round of the Brainerd race on Saturday in the third session. The Brainerd final will be contested on Sunday.
“I know I have a good horse, but you always wonder,” said Line, who has started from the No. 1 position 36 times in his career. “A lot of times you leave one place – at Brainerd my car was very fast, and it would have been nice to finish that race there – you wonder, is it going to be as good when you get to the next race. Fortunately, we had fairly similar conditions here to what we had in Brainerd, and we ran well there. We basically had the same tune-up here as we did there, and it ran about the same.
“It’s very strange, I’ve never finished a race this way, but there is a first time for everything. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, we can win.”
Greg Anderson came to the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at the top of his game and on a mission, and it showed on the first day of qualifying for the 60th anniversary rendition of the event. Anderson powered his white Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro to a strong 6.643-second pass at 208.10 mph to pick up a bonus qualifying point and earn the provisional No. 3 spot.
With just a single run scheduled for the first day of the biggest race of the year, Anderson and his Summit Racing teammate Jason Line came out with guns blazing. Line landed in the No. 1 spot.
“It was a good day for the Summit Racing team, and we didn’t really make a clean run with my car, but it ran pretty well and it’s a good start. We’re happy,” said Anderson, the most successful currently competing Pro Stock driver at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis with six U.S. Nationals trophies on his scorecard.
Anderson, No. 10 in the Pro Stock standings and a round and a half ahead of 11th place Jonathan Gray, gained a valuable bonus qualifying point for his run as it was the third quickest of the session. Every mark is carefully tallied at the event, the last of the regular season before the Countdown to the Championship field is set.
“That’s one more point than I had when I got here,” noted Anderson. “We missed it a little bit on the set-up, but the run certainly wasn’t horrible – it just wasn’t perfect. We know we can run better, and Jason showed us what we can do. It was a good start for us, and I’m not complaining at all. The confidence is a little higher for the Summit Racing team, and for me, I think Indy raises my confidence all on its own. Indy just does that to me. I love coming here. It’s a feel-good place for me. I can’t wait to come back tomorrow for more.”
Qualifying continues on Saturday with two more sessions, with two additional runs scheduled for Sunday before Monday eliminations.
Team JEGS had an outstanding first day at the U.S. Nationals on Friday at Lucas Oil Raceway.
JEGS.com Pro Mod driver Troy Coughlin secured the provisional No. 1 qualifier, and son T.J. Coughlin won first-round matches in Super Gas and Super Comp. Four-time U.S. Nationals champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. meanwhile was No. 10 in Pro Stock qualifying.
“We had a helluva first day when you look at all the teams,” said Jeg, the U.S. Nationals champion in Pro Stock in 2000, 2002, and 2009 and in Super Gas in 1992. “Troy going to the pole in Pro Mod was exciting, and T.J. getting a couple first-round wins was great.”
Older brother Troy agreed.
“It’s been a pretty good day,” Troy said. “Jeggie’s qualified in the middle of the pack, we ended up No. 1, and T.J.’s won in Super Comp and Super Gas first round. Pretty good day for JEGS.com.”
Troy’s turbocharged Corvette sped down Lucas Oil Raceway with a pass of 5.945 seconds at 248.75 mph to lead 31 Pro Mod cars that made qualifying passes Friday.
“We’ve been testing a lot and it’s been running pretty good,” Troy said. “(Crew chief) Steve (Petty) is just a mastermind at what he’s doing. As long as we don’t make any mistakes, man, it’ll run pretty good.”
T.J., coming off a Division 3 Super Gas victory at Cecil County Raceway two weeks ago, got past what is perhaps the most difficult round in the Sportsman classes.
In his Super Gas roadster, T.J. had a .025-second reaction time and ran under his 9.90-second index but was able to advance.
“I didn’t quite get it all,” T.J. said. “We’ll come back a little bit more up on the wheel. First round is always the toughest. Tomorrow will be similar, but with a round under your belt in competition, it’s a little easier mentally.”
T.J. races Diana Anderson in the second round of Super Gas.
T.J.’s reaction time was better in Super Comp, .012, and ran an 8.898 on his 8.90 index.
“We had a good execution in the dragster,” he said. “We had a good run, close to our index. We’re on a high note on that one, for sure.”
T.J. faces Marion Stephenson in the second round of Super Comp.
Jeg made a Q1 pass of 6.681 seconds at 206.39 mph in his JEGS.com/Mopar Pro Stock Dodge.
“We’re 10th, so obviously there are nine cars happier,” Jeg said. “We’ll work hard tonight to see if we can figure out where the elapsed time is. I’m not too concerned. We’ve got a great computer system on the car, and we all know how to read it and we’ve got a great team. We’ll look to improve and get ourselves in a better position tomorrow. We’d love to run well in Q2 tomorrow and get set up for Q3 and the semifinals of Brainerd.”
The Brainerd race was postponed after two rounds because of rain. Q3 on Saturday at Indy will also serve as the Brainerd semifinals. Jeg lines up against Vincent Nobile in the semifinal race.
Summit Racing Pro Stock driver Jason Line will have the unique opportunity to race for two trophies this weekend at the most prestigious race on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour, the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. In addition to pursuing his first Indy trophy, Line, of Mooresville, N.C., was a semifinalist at the rain-halted Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd two weeks ago and will complete the race during qualifying at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
Line enters the U.S. Nationals as the track record holder with a 6.538-second elapsed time recorded in 2011, and the event three years ago marked the most success that Line has yet had at the esteemed facility. He was No. 1 qualifier that year and raced to the final round to record a runner-up finish to Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson. The fact that victory in Indianapolis has so far been elusive for the 34-time NHRA Pro Stock winner isn’t weighing heavily on Line’s mind; he arrives in possession of the points lead and with two consecutive wins on his scorecard, earned in Sonoma and Seattle.
“We’re just going to show up and start there,” said Line. “I don’t know if the KB Racing team will dominate this weekend, but we are certainly in a position where we have a chance to win the race. We have the Summit Racing Camaros running a lot better than they were three months ago, but it’s hard to say how it will turn out because you just don’t know what everyone else is doing. Anyone could have worked very hard and come up with some piece that they’ve been missing. I do know that we will be right in the hunt. The Summit Racing team will be competitive. Do we have a chance to qualify No. 1? You bet.”
In addition to Line’s low qualifier award in 2011, teammate Anderson has three No. 1s earned in Indy (2004-06) and has six times won the event.
While the team’s collective U.S. Nationals record is exemplary, they will have their hands full this weekend as they fight for the trophies up for grabs and work diligently to preserve Anderson’s position in the top 10. The weekend will signify the closing of the regular season, and it is the final chance for drivers to lock in their spot in the Countdown to the Championship.
“Indy is a place where Greg shines,” said Line. “He has a stranglehold on that race and loves going there. He thrives there, and I certainly wouldn’t want to race against him. He’s tough, and I know he’ll be fine. Our team tested a couple of days after Brainerd and we’ve been working on engines and getting ready for the Countdown, and we’ll be ready for this weekend.
“For me, personally, it’s going to be unusual because we’re finishing the Brainerd race. But I look at that as a positive thing. It gives me another chance to have a crack at raceday. Usually, if you don’t do well on raceday you have to wait another week or more, but in this case if things don’t go my way I’ll only have to wait another day. It’s another opportunity to be in race mode and see what we have as the Countdown gets closer, and I’m excited about it. We were pretty happy with our performance at Brainerd, so we’re confident that we can show up with what we have and be very competitive.”
Summit Racing pilot Greg Anderson has the best record of all currently racing Pro Stock competitors at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis with six trophies earned, and this weekend’s 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will provide a fresh canvas for the four-time NHRA world champion to paint another thrilling picture. This weekend, Anderson will compete for a seventh Indy Wally on the 15th anniversary of his first U.S. Nationals final.
With just one more chance to lobby for a strong starting position in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, Anderson, of Mooresville, N.C., enters this season’s event in the No. 10 position and on a steady upswing. Although he faltered a bit two weeks ago in Brainerd, the 74-time national event winner is prepared to bounce back and continue the climb.
The hallowed grounds at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis were where Anderson earned his first ticket to the final round. In 1999 he made his way to a money-round match with veteran driver and former boss Warren Johnson. Making it so far on raceday at such a prestigious event was not lost on Anderson, but he was quickly brought back to reality.
“I got whupped,” said Anderson with a laugh. “We were having a magical day, and I really, really believed we could win that race. But then we ran Warren Johnson in the final, and I looked like the rookie I was. He whupped my butt pretty good – I thought we were going to win Indy with a Cinderella story, but he had a different idea.
“There was a difference in the lanes, if I remember correctly, and he sniffed it out and showed me who was boss. That showed me that it takes more than just a lucky day to win a race. You need experience. It was a lesson learned. It took some time to recover, but I got better because of it, and that was probably my launching pad and what made this all set sail.”
As of late, Anderson and his determined KB Racing team have seen their two Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaros gain performance, and Anderson has logged his best qualifying efforts of the year in the last four races. Three times this season he has raced to the final round, including just a few weeks ago in Seattle when he fell to Summit Racing teammate Jason Line.
“I feel very good about our performance right now,” said Anderson. “We’ve had a couple of good test days, and it’s basically come down to the final event to lock in our spot. We’re No. 10 right now, and if [No. 11] Jonathan Gray wants this spot, he’s going to have to whup me to earn it. It’s come down to the end like I thought it would, and it should be a great challenge. May the best man win.”
Five-time and reigning NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. is more than excited about this weekend’s return to Brainerd Int’l Raceway for the 33rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. That’s because the driver of the powerful JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart counts BIR as one of his top racetracks.
Coughlin’s personal history in the Minnesota Northwoods goes a long way in explaining his love affair with this event. As a professional, he has raced to five final rounds in Brainerd, winning four of those events outright (in 1999, 2002, 2007, and 2010). He also won Brainerd’s Super Stock title in 1997.
“It’s a fun event and any time you go to a track where you’ve won, in this case on multiple occasions, you definitely have a good feeling about your chances,” Coughlin said. “Quite frankly, I have a great feeling about this weekend. The guys have both of our team cars in top condition and we have all the elements in place for success.
“Of course, the other big thing about Brainerd is the fans and the craziness of ‘the Zoo.’ Those folks certainly know how to have a good time, and they are always extremely welcoming to all of the drivers and crew personnel, welcoming us into their world. It’s like a giant party that happens to feature a drag race.”
With this weekend’s race one of just two remaining events in NHRA’s regular season, Coughlin finds himself in a heated battle for position in the championship rankings. Having already earned his spot among the 10 racers who will qualify for this year’s Countdown to the Championship, Coughlin knows every spot he can gain in the points standings will help his cause in the six-race playoffs.
“We’ve had some up an down moments this season, mostly up,” Coughlin said. “We had a great stretch in the early part of the summer and we’d like to get back to that sort of success as the Countdown approaches. We clinched a spot pretty early, so that’s afforded us the time to try out some things for the playoffs.
“They do reset the points and separate us all by 10 points from 1-10 for the start of the Countdown, so while you’d love to start higher up the grid, it’s really a negligible difference between being third or fourth or second or third. It’s more important to enter the Countdown with momentum, which we can start this weekend.”
The JEGS.com team has appeared in five final rounds in the first 16 events of the season with Coughlin claiming victories in Atlanta and Englishtown, N.J.
Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3 and 5:30 p.m., Friday, and 1 and 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. ESPN2 will carry all qualifying and elimination action.
Reigning NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. knows his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge team will be putting in overtime looking for improvement after a strange second-round loss at the O’Reilly NHRA Northwest Nationals on Sunday at Pacific Raceways.
“We’ll be sleepless until Brainerd (Minn.), coming out of Seattle,” Coughlin said.
After qualifying No. 4 in Seattle, Coughlin had high hopes for Sunday’s eliminations, which started with a first-round win over Larry Morgan, but his Dodge Dart shook the tires hard off the line in the second round against Greg Anderson, so much so that the parachutes popped early, ending any chance at victory.
While J&J Racing teammate Allen Johnson qualified No. 1 and raced to the semifinals, Coughlin and his team were left scratching their heads.
“We came in wanting to try a few things early in the weekend,” Coughlin said. “It looked like things were decent, but we pretty much made the car identical to Allen’s going into Sunday. The cars are pretty similar, and we’ve run them pretty similar.
“We’ve been up and down hot racetracks, up and down cold racetracks, good air, bad air, it hadn’t really mattered.”
Coughlin made a decent pass in E1, 6.565 seconds at 210.67, to easily outrun Morgan’s run of 6.646 at 208.17 mph. But while Anderson’s second-round lap was 6.571 at 211.30 mph, Coughlin crept to the finish line with a 12.185-second pass at 54.52 mph — and the chutes trailing behind him.
But Coughlin is confident that his team and crew chiefs Adam Hornberger and Mark Ingersoll will get his Dodge’s tune-up better.
“We’ve got to write down on a piece of paper where this thing is set up at and compare that to something we know worked well,” Coughlin said. “There’s a glaring problem and it’s self-induced. It’s not a car problem and not likely a horsepower problem. The car is doing what it’s told to do, and right now that’s not what we want it to do.”
Seattle may have been tough to swallow, but Coughlin knows the results can come. He has won twice this season in four final-round appearances and leaves Seattle fourth in the points standings.
“A little disappointing, to say the least,” Coughlin said. “The good thing is we’ve got two races to sort it out before the Countdown. I’d really like to see us sort it out before Q1 at Brainerd. We’ve got the talent for it, and we’ve got the support for it.”
Reigning Pro Stock world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. posted a quarterfinal finish in Seattle.
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