Jeggie Returns To Cockpit In Sonoma

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, July 31 2015
Jeg Coughlin Jr. will be coming out of retirement this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Team Jegs)

Jeg Coughlin Jr. will be coming out of retirement this weekend in an effort to help Erica Enders-Stevens. (Photo courtesy of Team Jegs)

Erica Enders’ pursuit of a second consecutive NHRA Pro Stock world championship figures to receive a high-profile boost this weekend, when five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. rolls out of a self-imposed retirement and into the staging lanes at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.

Sitting between multiple world champions Greg Anderson and Jason line in bugnhranotesthe point standings, Enders will be paired with Coughlin for the next three stops on the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule, including the final two rounds of the three-race Western Swing.

Coughlin will compete in Enders’ backup Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro as super-sub for impressive rookie Drew Skillman, who was not scheduled to compete in the 28th annual Sonoma Nationals, the 28th annual Northwest Nationals in Kent, Wash., or the 34th annual Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd, Minn.

“This is an extremely exciting time for me,” said Coughlin, a 58-time national event-winner making his debut with Elite Motorsports, Stockseth Racing and Ray Skillman Chevrolet. “I love Pro Stock racing and to be returning to the class, albeit for just a three-race stint, has me very pumped-up. It’s a thrill to know I’ll have the horsepower, the people and the race car that runs right at the top of the charts.”

Coughlin and Richard Freeman, the owner of Elite Motorsports, are longtime friends. “I raced Richard’s Comp Eliminator ride for him back in 2006 at Indy, and we’ve always talked about racing together again,” Coughlin said. “We had a good time then and we’ll have a lot of fun this time, I’m sure. Hopefully, I can pick up right where I left off last year as far as my driving goes. When you have all the other pieces in place, it comes down to the ability of the driver, so I’ll need to be ready to race.”

Although he hasn’t competed in Pro Stock this year, Coughlin must be considered a threat to go rounds at Sonoma Raceway and potentially reach his 100th career final. He has won at the facility in California’s wine country twice (2003 and 2010), and will be hooking up via the same Elite Performance horsepower as Enders, a four-time winner this season.

“You’ve got Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston over there, two of the top engine guys in motorsports,” Coughlin said. “You’ve got two guys I really respect in Rick and Rickie Jones, as well as my longtime friend Mark Ingersoll, making the tuning calls. The crew guys have shown they don’t make any mistakes. It’s just an impressive group.

“I’m really honored to be racing alongside Erica. She’s a great champion and a wonderful driver who already has a bunch of victories this year, so she’s on top of her game. I’m thankful to share the pit with her. I’ve truly joined an all-star cast, and my passion for driving again is peaking right now.”

Enders, meanwhile, will head into Friday’s opening two rounds of time trials second to four-time world champion Anderson in the standings by 37 points (1,201-1,164), roughly two rounds of racing. Line, who is Anderson’s Summit Racing Equipment Camaro teammate and a two-time world champ, is third in the standings, 176 points behind Enders.  To-date, Enders has a 4-2 record in head-to-head matchups with Anderson and is 1-0 against Line.

Enders has been ranked either first or second in points for the last four months. “With the exception of two races early in the year, either Greg, Jason, or I have been in the No. 1 spot and we’ve swapped it around nine times already in 14 races,” Enders said.”So it’s been another super-tough year in Pro Stock. It’s a huge challenge every week but that’s why we race.

“We knew coming into this year with the No. 1 on the side of our Elite Motorsports Chevrolet that we were going to be the hunted, and that’s proven to be true. Everyone takes their best shot against us, and we’ve had to raise our level to keep up the fight.”

Although Enders has yet to win a national event at Sonoma, she still ranks the track as one of her top-three favorites. “It would be really awesome to get it done in Sonoma,” Enders said. “It’s wine country and along with the Wally you get a giant bottle of wine from the track if you win. I’m fortunate to have a bunch of winos on my team, so we’d love that.

“My team-owner, Richard Freeman, has never been there and has never raced there, so it’s new territory for him. A couple of my crew guys have never been out there, either, so it’ll be a fun, exciting weekend.

“We’ve definitely got a lot of confidence, even though we’re not coming off a win in Denver. We’ve got momentum and confidence heading into Sonoma, and that sits well with me.”

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), “Fast” Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) began the Western Swing with victories last Sunday in the36th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., near Denver.

Line, former series regular Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), and Krawiec (PSM) are defending winners of the event, which will be televised by ESPN2. The network will air two hours of qualifying coverage Saturday at 8 p.m. (EDT) and three hours of eliminations coverage Sunday starting at 9 p.m. (EDT).

Sonoma Raceway also will host the NHRA Pro Bike Battle, a specialty bonus event for the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. The event will take place Saturday and feature eight riders vying for the top prize. Pro Stock Motorcycle riders began earning points for the event at last year’s NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying is scheduled to begin Friday with sessions at 4:15 and 6:45 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday at 1:10 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday. Saturday’s NHRA Pro Bike Battle will take place at 1, 3 and 4:55 p.m.


Top Fuel _ 3.743-seconds by Shawn Langdon, July ‘13; 328.62 mph by Spencer Massey, July ’12.

Funny Car _ 3.986-seconds and 320.51 mph by Matt Hagan, July ‘13.

Pro Stock _ 6.512-seconds by Erica Enders, July ’12; 212.56 mph by Mike Edwards, July ‘13.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 6.785-seconds by Eddie Krawiec, July ’12; 198.44 mph by Hector Arana, July ’13.


John Force, 7, Funny Car; Doug Kalitta, 5, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, 4, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, 4, Pro Stock; Antron Brown, 3, Top Fuel; Darrell Alderman, 3, Pro Stock; Warren Johnson, 3, Pro Stock; Jason Line, 3, Pro Stock; Jim Yates, 3, Pro Stock.


Top Fuel _ 3.701-seconds by Antron Brown, Oct. ‘12, Reading, Pa.; 332.51 mph by Larry Dixon, June ’15, Norwalk, Ohio.

Funny Car _ 3.965-seconds by John Force, Feb. ’14, Pomona, Calif.; 325.06 mph by Courtney Force, May ’15, Topeka, Kan.

Pro Stock _ 6.455-seconds by Jason Line, March ’15, Concord, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 6.728-seconds by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., April ’15, Concord, N.C.


Top Fuel _ 1. Tony Schumacher, 1,126; 2. Antron Brown, 1,041; 3. Larry Dixon, 920; 4. Doug Kalitta, 880; 5. Richie Crampton, 848; 6. Spencer Massey, 788; 7. Brittany Force, 762; 8. Shawn Langdon, 748; 9. Steve Torrence, 728; 10. J.R. Todd, 703.

Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan, 1,083; 2. Jack Beckman, 938; 3. John Force, 891; 4. Ron Capps, 879; 5. Del Worsham, 868; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 855; 7. (tie) Cruz Pedregon, 782; Tim Wilkerson, 782; 9. Alexis DeJoria, 731; 10. Robert Hight, 703.

Pro Stock _ 1. Greg Anderson, 1,201; 2. Erica Enders, 1,164; 3. Jason Line, 988; 4. Chris McGaha, 925; 5. Allen Johnson, 845; 6. Larry Morgan, 842; 7. Drew Skillman, 779; 8. Shane Gray, 723; 9. Vincent Nobile, 681; 10. Jonathan Gray, 667.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Eddie Krawiec, 575; 2. Hector Arana Jr., 539; 3. Andrew Hines, 484; 4. Karen Stoffer, 413; 5. Jim Underdahl, 387; 6. Hector Arana, 383; 7. Matt Smith, 357; 8. Angelle Sampey, 336; 9. LE Tonglet, 334; 10. Jerry Savoie, 328.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, July 31 2015
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