Coughlin Powers His Way Back To Victory Lane

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, June 4 2018

Jeg Coughlin Jr. put an end to a long winless spell Sunday when he won the Pro Stock championship at Route 66 Dragway.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Jeg Coughlin Jr. snapped a four-year Pro Stock winless streak Sunday with a win over Greg Anderson in an all-world champion final of the 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill.

A five-time world champion, Coughlin posted his 59th career victory and first since 2014 by covering the traditional quarter-mile at Route 66 Raceway in 6.574-seconds at 210.67 mph while Anderson red-lighted at the Christmas Tree. A four-time world champ, Anderson had qualified on-pole Saturday.

“Did we have a good time today? Yeah!” Coughlin said in the winner’s circle. “Wow, what a race. Every round felt like a final round. You look at the guys we beat today, including my teammates in the first two rounds, it’s just a fantastic accomplishment.” 

Coughlin trailered Alex Laughlin, Matt Hartford and Tanner Gray to reach the final. Coughlin had gone 74 races since his last victory at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., but earned his sixth career win at Route 66 _ most for any NHRA driver. Including Sportsman competition, Coughlin has 77 NHRA victories and six world championships.

Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as winners in their respective categories at the ninth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

“Rick and Rickie Jones (crew chiefs) gave me a rocket this weekend,” said Coughlin, driver of the JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro SS owned by Richard

Jeg Coughlin Jr. became reacquainted with ‘Wally’ in Joliet.

Freeman. “We found a little problem with the race car Friday night and actually the KB Racing guys (including Anderson) helped us out with some parts so we give them kudos. I had a rocket come Saturday. I was third-best in Q3 and second-best in Q4 and then we led the pack all day today. It’s just fantastic.

“I could tell the excitement in Rickie Jones’ voice over the radio in the final and that meant the world to me. He and I are really working well together. The whole team has been hard at it for months. This is very satisfying, especially with this being the JEGS Nationals.”

Jeg Jr. is the youngest of four Coughlin brothers. Father Jeg Coughlin Sr. was among family members celebrating in the Chicago suburb at the first pro event sponsored by the high-performance parts company he founded 58 years ago.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to visit the winner’s circle quite a bit over the years and today is one of those days I won’t forget,” said Coughlin, a 47-year-old resident of Delaware, Ohio. “We’ve got an unbelievable team with Elite Motorsports and this year we’ve come onto a great stretch. I was aggressive and stayed consistent, my team gave me a great car and we were low E.T. four rounds in a row. I think we did it in grand style to break that ice.”

Coughlin also jumped to 10th in points, becoming the eighth different winner in Pro Stock through the season’s first nine races. Anderson, who was seeking his first win of 2018 in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro SS, had taken the point lead over Vincent Nobile with his final-round berth.

Millican raced to his second straight Top Fuel victory of the season via a 1,000-foot pass in 3.894-seconds at 289.32 mph to secure his third career win. Millican defeated Pat Dakin, Scott Palmer, Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett in the final for his first career victory at Route 66 Raceway, the facility where he made his first career NHRA Top Fuel start in 1998.

It took me 19 years to get that first (win), then less than a year to get that second one and less than two weeks to get the third,” said Millican, driver of the Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster tuned by David Grubnic. “I like this trend. This place is really special and my team gave me such a good car. It wasn’t necessarily my best weekend, but it was certainly pretty cool to have the team pull together and just keep turning those win lights on.”

Millican, a 52-year-old resident of Drummonds, Tenn., moved to second in the point standings behind No. 1 qualifier Steve Torrence, who was upset in the first round by Chicagoan Luigi Novelli. Pritchett _ who beat Don Schumacher Racing teammate/three-time world champ Antron Brown, Kyle Wurtzel and Blake Anderson _ climbed to third in the standings after her second final round appearance of 2018.

Hight, the two-time/reigning Funny Car world champion, powered to a 1,000-foot pass of 4.073-seconds at 310.63 mph to defeat 2016 world champ Ron Capps in the final. Hight drove past two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon, point-leader/John Force Racing teammate Courtney Force and Bob Tasca III to reach his fourth final round of the year. The victory was the first at Route 66 Raceway for Hight, a 42-time event winner and resident of Yorba Linda, Calif.

“It was a great weekend,” said Hight, 48, driver of the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS tuned by Jimmy Prock. “We qualified 12th, which isn’t where you want to qualify. But when you have a team like this behind you, you never lose faith and you always believe in them. I always thought Chicago might have my number. This is my 14th time here and I had never won this race but we finally got it done today and that’s big. As a driver, you want to win at every venue you go to, and there’s not a better place than Chicago.” 

DSR’s Capps defeated Jon Schriefer, Shawn Langdon and 16-time world champ John Force en route to his first final round of the season and sixth at the facility. Courtney Force maintained her point lead over second-place Jack Beckman of DSR, while Hight moved into third. 

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, two-time world champion Smith earned his first victory of 2018 and 19th of his career with a quarter-mile run of 6.816-seconds at 195.87 mph aboard his Victory Magnum in the final. Smith bested Steve Johnson, Jim Underdahl, point-leader/pole-sitter and five-time world champion Andrew Hines and 2010 world champ LE Tonglet in the final to lock down his first career victory at Route 66 Raceway. Smith also moved into sixth in the point standings.

“We always run good here in Chicago and I knew we had a good bike,” said Smith, a 45-year-old resident of King, N.C. “We were the quickest bike every round and that’s just a testament to my crew. I’m just very excited. We were just trying to win a race and this was big for us.”

The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will continue June 8th-10th at the NHRA Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Va. 


Final finishing order (1-16) at the 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. The race is the ninth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _1. Clay Millican; 2. Leah Pritchett; 3. Doug Kalitta; 4. Blake Alexander; 5. Luigi Novelli; 6. Scott Palmer; 7. Billy Torrence; 8. Kyle Wurtzel; 9. T.J. Zizzo; 10. Pat Dakin; 11. Steve Torrence; 12. Richie Crampton; 13. Brittany Force; 14. Tony Schumacher; 15. Terry McMillen; 16. Antron Brown.

Funny Car _ 1. Robert Hight; 2. Ron Capps; 3. Bob Tasca III; 4. John Force; 5. Courtney Force; 6. Matt Hagan; 7. Shawn Langdon; 8. Jack Beckman; 9. J.R. Todd; 10. Justin Schriefer; 11. Jonnie Lindberg; 12. Tim Wilkerson; 13. Jim Campbell; 14. Cruz Pedregon; 15. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 16. Dale Creasy Jr.

Pro Stock _1. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Tanner Gray; 4. Vincent Nobile; 5. Matt Hartford; 6. Deric Kramer; 7. Jason Line; 8. Erica Enders; 9. Alex Laughlin; 10. Chris McGaha; 11. Drew Skillman; 12. Mark Hogan; 13. Dave River; 14. Tim Freeman; 15. Bo Butner; 16. Wally Stroupe.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Matt Smith; 2. LE Tonglet; 3. Andrew Hines; 4. Hector Arana Jr.; 5. Eddie Krawiec; 6. Angie Smith; 7. Jim Underdahl; 8. Ryan Oehler; 9. Jerry Savoie; 10. Steve Johnson; 11. Joey Gladstone; 12. Scotty Pollacheck; 13. Hector Arana; 14. Kelly Clontz; 15. Marc Ingwersen; 16. Cory Reed.

Sunday’s final results from the 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

Top Fuel _ Clay Millican, 3.894-seconds, 289.32 mph def. Leah Pritchett, 4.501-seconds, 192.08 mph.

Funny Car _ Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.073, 310.63 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.310, 230.21.

Pro Stock _ Jeg Coughlin Jr., Chevy Camaro, 6.574, 210.67 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, Foul /Red Light.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Matt Smith, Victory, 6.816, 195.87 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.862, 193.24.

Top Alcohol Dragster _ Joey Severance, 5.249, 275.06 def. Dan Page, 5.347, 263.51.

Top Alcohol Funny Car _ Shane Westerfield, Chevy Camaro, 5.470, 271.73 def. Kris Hool, Camaro, 8.540, 110.82.

Competition Eliminator _ Mike Mans, Chevy Lumina, 8.166, 165.99 def. Greg Kamplain, Dragster, 6.780, 181.15.

Super Stock _ Justin Lamb, Chevy Cobalt, 8.542, 154.16 def. Dave Dupps Jr., Cobalt, 9.956, 130.40.

Stock Eliminator _ Jeff Adkinson, Chevy Camaro, 10.055, 126.85 def. Justin Lamb, Camaro, Foul/Red Light.

Super Comp _ Austin Williams, Dragster, 8.898, 163.49 def. Koy Collier, Dragster, Foul/Red Light.

Super Gas _ Koy Collier, Chevy Camaro, 9.881, 158.71 def. Larry Bernshausen, Chevy Vega Wagon, 9.878, 147.88.

Super Street _ Val Harmon, Chevy II, 10.912, 144.97 def. Cole Cummings, Chevy Nova, 10.914, 142.90.

Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com _ Don O’Neal, Chevy Monte Carlo, 8.667, 105.72 def. Lester Johnson, Chevy Bel Air, Foul/Centerline.

Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com _ Kyle Seipel, Dragster, 6.728, 203.77 def. Aaron Stanfield, Dragster, 6.190, 219.40.

Final round-by-round results from the 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:


ROUND ONE _ Blake Alexander, 3.775, 331.69 def. Richie Crampton, 4.272, 194.58; Scott Palmer, 3.781, 322.58 def. T.J. Zizzo, 3.807, 322.04; Billy Torrence, 3.784, 330.15 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.718, 162.43; Kyle Wurtzel, 3.926, 303.03 def. Brittany Force, 4.292, 239.06; Luigi Novelli, 4.003, 290.51 def. Steve Torrence, 4.237, 221.34; Clay Millican, 3.755, 329.42 def. Pat Dakin, 3.894, 318.69; Leah Pritchett, 3.769, 329.67 def. Antron Brown, 5.402, 134.91; Doug Kalitta, 3.978, 281.48 def. Terry McMillen, 5.161, 135.73;

QUARTERFINALS _ Kalitta, 3.934, 305.77 def. Novelli, 4.081, 253.85; Millican, 3.960, 254.95 def. Palmer, 4.122, 266.58; Pritchett, 3.929, 298.93 def. Wurtzel, 5.171, 137.16; Alexander, 4.245, 240.94 def. B. Torrence, 4.538, 192.38;

SEMIFINALS _ Millican, 3.785, 316.75 def. Kalitta, 3.819, 325.53; Pritchett, 3.832, 326.16 def. Alexander, 3.896, 325.06;

FINAL _ Millican, 3.894, 289.32 def. Pritchett, 4.501, 192.08.


ROUND ONE _ Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.109, 303.57 def. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 4.932, 161.90; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.092, 308.50 def. Justin Schriefer, Charger, 4.305, 222.73; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.017, 320.74 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 4.442, 246.57; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.213, 237.25 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Dodge Stratus, 6.907, 81.20; John Force, Camaro, 4.059, 318.77 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.670, 175.68; Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.354, 229.00 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 5.036, 155.90; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.475, 250.00 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 5.874, 97.84; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.024, 317.42 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.011, 322.50;

QUARTERFINALS _ Capps, 4.104, 311.77 def. Langdon, 4.154, 307.16; Tasca III, 4.084, 307.86 def. Hagan, 4.149, 282.95; J. Force, 4.208, 303.09 def. Beckman, 4.451, 241.11; Hight, 4.064, 316.97 def. C. Force, 4.058, 312.42;

SEMIFINALS _ Capps, 4.058, 313.80 def. J. Force, Foul/Centerline; Hight, 4.076, 315.12 def. Tasca III, 4.886, 165.64;

FINAL _ Hight, 4.073, 310.63 def. Capps, 4.310, 230.21.


ROUND ONE _ Deric Kramer, Chevy Camaro, 6.582, 210.08 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.584, 209.75 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.603, 210.80; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.562, 210.50 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.577, 210.18; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.579, 210.57 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.590, 209.52; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.570, 210.47 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.764, 204.57; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.573, 211.13 def. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.579, 210.93 def. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.897, 197.59; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.574, 210.44 def. Tim Freeman, Camaro, 7.414, 135.61;

QUARTERFINALS _ Anderson, 6.618, 210.54 def. Kramer, 6.595, 210.01; Nobile, 6.582, 210.21 def. Line, 6.595, 210.70; Gray, 6.600, 210.31 def. Enders, 6.601, 209.72; Coughlin, 6.567, 210.57 def. Hartford, 6.573, 210.05;

SEMIFINALS _ Anderson, 6.604, 209.85 def. Nobile, 12.390, 70.57; Coughlin, 6.574, 210.67 def. Gray, 6.592, 210.73;

FINAL _ Coughlin, 6.574, 210.67 def. Anderson, Foul/Red Light.


ROUND ONE _ Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.887, 196.42 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, Foul/Red Light; Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.910, 193.46 def. Hector Arana, Buell, Foul/Red Light; Angie Smith, Buell, 6.821, 196.99 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.916, 192.22; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.828, 197.65 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.941, 192.93; Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.835, 199.02 def. Marc Ingwersen, Buell, 7.051, 191.43; Matt Smith, 6.784, 198.35 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.868, 195.85; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.815, 197.02 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.006, 195.17; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.801, 198.32 def. Cory Reed, Buell, Broke;

QUARTERFINALS _ Arana Jr., 6.793, 200.89 def. A. Smith, 6.839, 196.64; Tonglet, 6.807, 198.93 def. Krawiec, Foul/Red Light; Hines, 6.818, 198.47 def. Oehler, 7.105, 192.30; M. Smith, 6.788, 198.96 def. Underdahl, Foul /Red Light;

SEMIFINALS _ Tonglet, 6.814, 198.55 def. Arana Jr., 7.636, 135.81; M. Smith, 6.796, 198.64 def. Hines, 6.818, 197.31;

FINAL _ M. Smith, 6.816, 195.87 def. Tonglet, 6.862, 193.24.

Point standings (top-10) following the 21st annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

Top Fuel _1. Steve Torrence, 712; 2. Clay Millican, 687; 3. Leah Pritchett, 582; 4. Tony Schumacher, 578; 5. Doug Kalitta, 570; 6. Brittany Force, 471; 7. Terry McMillen, 464; 8. Antron Brown, 456; 9.Scott Palmer, 350; 10. Richie Crampton, 329.

Funny Car _1. Courtney Force, 728; 2. Jack Beckman, 647; 3. Robert Hight, 624; 4. Matt Hagan, 601; 5. J.R. Todd, 539; 6. Ron Capps, 535; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 522; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 433; 9. Shawn Langdon, 429; 10. John Force, 383.

Pro Stock_1. Greg Anderson, 653; 2. Vincent Nobile, 647; 3. Erica Enders, 594; 4. Deric Kramer, 592; 5. Tanner Gray, 575; 6. Bo Butner, 550; 7. Drew Skillman, 529; 8. Chris McGaha, 527; 9. Jason Line, 499; 10. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 487.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Andrew Hines, 348; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 345; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, 278; 4.  LE Tonglet, 249; 5.Jerry Savoie, 240; 6. Matt Smith, 235; 7. Hector Arana Jr., 233; 8. Hector Arana, 192; 9.Angelle Sampey, 187; 10. Cory Reed, 173.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, June 4 2018
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