Jeg Coughlin Jr. began the 2020 NHRA season with a dominating run at the 60th annual Lucas Oil Winternationals, posting low elapsed time of every round in both qualifying and eliminations to secure his 64th Pro Stock trophy.
Coughlin’s perfect performance earned him the maximum of 130 points to put him clearly in front of the class. It was a rare mastery of a category where qualifying positions and race wins are usually decided by a few thousandths of a second. Coughlin’s closest contest Sunday came in the final where Jason Line crossed the finish line .034 seconds behind Coughlin’s JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro.
“This might be the most dominant single race I’ve had in my 23 years of racing in Pro Stock,” said Coughlin, who earlier this weekend announced this would be his last full-time effort in the professional ranks. “Just an incredible run from the first qualifying session right through to the final, we just had an extremely fast car.
“It’s extremely exciting to kick off the 50th year of Pro Stock with a win at the 60th annual Winternationals in a racecar that salutes the 60th anniversary of JEGS. Rickie (Jones, crew chief) and everyone in the JEGS pit and at Elite Motorsports in general did an outstanding job.”
Auto Club Raceway in Pomona is now far and away the best track on the tour for Coughlin, who has eight wins at the facility, including three at the Winternationals. He also has seven runner-ups here. Additionally, Coughlin won last year’s NHRA Finals.
Sunday’s trophy match-up with Line, which by class standards wasn’t very close, was made a touch more entertaining by Line’s .009-second head-start. But Coughlin had that deficit made up in the first 100 feet and cruised away to the win, posting a 6.522 at 210.80 mph to Line’s 6.565 at 209.56 mph. The 6.522 was low elapsed time of the event. Coughlin is now 6-2 against Line in final rounds.
The road to Coughlin’s 112th career Pro Stock final went through Joey Grose, whom he beat with 6.542 at 210.18 mph to Grose’s 6.7 at 206.29 mph, Chris McGaha, who fell to Coughlin’s 6.546 at 210.28 to his own 6.574 at 209.72 mph (after a .019-second head-start by Coughlin), and Kenny Delco, who surrendered to a 6.535 at 210.44 mph with a 6.716 at 180.28 mph.
“I was pleasantly surprised as the weekend and particularly race day went along,” Coughlin said. “We just pecked away at the tune-up, the motor and my driving, frankly, and we just couldn’t be any happier with how everything turned out. And we weren’t really lights-out if you look at the data. There’s room to improve.
“Normally when we win a race we like to celebrate as a team, enjoy a good meal and spend some time together. Then, for me it’s usually on the plane ride home, I start to shift my attention to the next race, the next challenge. But this win was pretty special. I think we’re going to really let it sink in and enjoy it this time.”