The long silence is finally over.
The best drag racers in the world roar back to life this weekend for the first time in four and a half months with the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway. It’s safe to say Team JEGS Pro Stock drivers Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Troy Coughlin Jr. couldn’t be happier to get back on the strip.
Jeg Jr. started off 2020 on fire, winning the season-opening NHRA Winternationals in Pomona and the one-off World Doorslammer Nationals in Orlando before the outbreak of COVID-19 halted all public gatherings. He currently sits just six points behind class leader and teammate Erica Enders, who won in Phoenix.
“I’m excited to get back to racing, and I’m sure everyone else is as well,” Jeg Jr. said. “Although we haven’t been competing professionally, the Elite team hasn’t rested and with as much prep time as we’ve had since the last pro race, shame on us if we’re not completely ready for this restart.
“I’m actually very confident in what we’ll be able to do. We had a great run going before the COVID pandemic, dating back into last season, with a strong run of wins and final-round appearances, and although it’s been nearly 140 days, we should still be right at the top of the charts.”
Jeg Jr. also is confident in the protocols put in place by the NHRA to ensure the health and safety of all personnel needed on site at the racetracks, including drivers, crew members and support staff.
“The NHRA guidelines are very extensive and we will endeavor to follow them completely so we can continue this return to racing,” Jeg Jr. said. “We’re hopeful our wonderful fans that would normally be packing the stands will be following along on FOX TV or online. We’re all doing the best we can with the cards we’ve been dealt.
“This year has given me a glimpse into what my life will look like after this season when I pull-back from full-time competition. I’ve had a chance to concentrate so much more energy into my family and the business of JEGS and I’ve actually been really comfortable with it all. Having said that, I’m still looking forward to reuniting with everyone and racing again with my nephew Troy Jr. He’s a big part of our future.”
Troy Jr. will be joining his uncle Jeg Jr. in competition for the first time as Pro Stock teammates, driving the JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Ford Mustang of Marty Robinson, who raced at the first two NHRA events of the season. Robinson, a decorated drag racer in the radial world, cannot attend this event due to prior commitments. This is a one-race arrangement.
“I’m very honored to get this chance to drive Marty’s car for Elite Motorsports,” said Troy, who licensed in Pro Stock during the off-season after securing his second straight Top Alcohol Dragster regional championship. “For (Elite team owner) Richard Freeman to put an unproven rookie driver in the seat is a big gamble for him so I’m more determined than ever to perform at my very best.
“I don’t have any expectations other than to continue learning these Pro Stock cars. The more seat time and executions I get, the better I can be behind the wheel. It’s also perfect to be racing as Uncle Jeg’s teammate because he’s been a mentor for me from the start of my career. Plus, it’s clear Elite Motorsports is a total class organization with top-notch people all the way around. I’ll have everything I need to succeed.”
The last time a member of the Coughlin family drove a Ford-branded hot rod in NHRA competition was back in 2005 when three-time world champion Troy Coughlin Sr. competed in Pro Mod alongside Mike Ashley.
“Any time I represent JEGS it’s a very big deal to me,” Troy Jr. said of the mail-order high-performance parts giant started by his grandfather Jeg Coughlin Sr. “To have this chance to get our loyal Ford customers involved is really cool. We sell lots of Ford parts alongside the Chevy and Mopar stuff so it’ll be cool to get fans of the blue oval revved up.”