Story By: SCOTT SMITH / NHRA – JOLIET, IL – A fulfilling weekend for Jeg Coughlin Jr. also means one of the most hectic weekends of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season for the longtime Pro Stock standout.
Coughlin and his family is the event sponsor for this weekend’s 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, a marquee event that also includes the JEGS Allstars bonus event pitting the best NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series racers from the across the country in individual and team competition. The Coughlin family is heavily involved in that aspect of the weekend as well, while Jeg is also racing for his first Pro Stock win of 2018 and sixth overall at a facility that has been very good to the five-time Pro Stock world champion over the years.
“We’ve got a busy, busy weekend ahead, for sure,” Coughlin said. “I’m always excited to get behind the wheel of my JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro and this weekend will be even more special as we’ve taken on title sponsorship of the event itself. Combine that with the JEGS Allstars race and it’s obviously a huge occasion for all of us at JEGS. We’re all extremely proud to have the JEGS name on these two marquee events, both on the Mello Yello and Lucas Oil levels. We’ve been working hard as a company to make this weekend a big success and we’re very much looking forward to crowning a bunch of JEGS champions.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock), and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of an event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including final eliminations coverage starting at 5:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. It is the ninth of 24 races of the 2018 season and one of the busiest all year for the entire Coughlin family.
Coughlin’s last victory at Route 66 Raceway came in 2013, but his five overall wins are tied with Tony Schumacher for the most among all NHRA drivers. This weekend, he’ll be joined by a number of family members across various classes, as the Coughlin family looks to make a sizeable imprint on the winner’s circle celebrations in Chicago.
“We’ve got lots of family racing with myself, brother Mike (in Top Dragster), my wife Samantha (Super Comp), our nephew T.J. (Troy Jr. in Top Alcohol Dragster), and our niece Paige (Super Comp),” said Coughlin, who is currently 11th in Pro Stock points. “Plus, we expect to have a good number of our 400-plus JEGS associates making the trip up to support the races.”
A win in Chicago would certainly send Coughlin in the right direction as he tries to become the eighth different winner in Pro Stock through the first nine races of 2018. It would also put Coughlin, who has 58 career wins, in a good position as he tries to jump into the top 10 and secure his spot in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. He’ll have to get past the likes of points leader Vincent Nobile, who has two wins in 2018, Erica Enders, defending world champ Bo Butner, Tanner Gray and defending event winner Skillman, but Coughlin believes his team is closing in a win in a class that has shown impressive parity all season.
“It would be fantastic to break through and get our first win in quite a while,” Coughlin said. “We’ve been knocking on the door of a race win for our JEGS car with lots of our Elite Motorsports teammates winning races lately. I firmly believe we’ll challenge for the No. 1 qualifier spot and regardless of where we end up qualifying, we will be in contention for the trophy come Sunday.”
Steve Torrence has continued a strong pace in Top Fuel, grabbing three wins and the points lead in 2018. He will try to hold off Topeka winner Clay Millican, Tony Schumacher, and Brittany Force.
Defending Funny Car event winner Ron Capps is after his first win of 2018 against class stars like points leader Courtney Force, Jack Beckman and defending world champion Robert Hight.
LE Tonglet is the defending event winner in Pro Stock Motorcycle, hoping for a fourth win at the facility against standouts Eddie Krawiec, who has two wins in 2018, and teammate Jerry Savoie.
After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Pro Jet Motorsports Al Z’s “Hot Blade” and Team Heat “Fifty Caliber” jet dragsters. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
Those in attendance will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with a few of the most renowned names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This will feature meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. Legends scheduled to attend the JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals include Don Garlits and more.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. on Friday, June 1 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 2, at 3:15 and 6 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 3.