Coughlin looks to get in gear at Bristol Dragway

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   BRISTOL--For the second straight year, Jeg Coughlin is off to a fairly slow start in the NHRA Pro Stock Series.
   Coughlin is hoping that this week's race at the Bristol Dragway will end the slow start and propel him to a season like the one he had in 2002.
   Coughlin didn't win a race until the 12th event last year, but finished up in the winner's circle eight times. Coughlin has yet to win this year, but hopes to see that change at this week's MAC Tools Thunder Valley Nationals.
   Coughlin isn't happy about not being in victory lane yet, but looks at last year's incredible season that saw him win the points title as hope.
   "We've had a competitive car," Coughlin said. "Fortunately we've qualified for the first five shows, so we're batting 1,000 there. We really feel like as a team that we're at the brink we were about this time in St. Louis last year. We won the race in St. Louis, and really never looked back."
   Coughlin does see a few problems so far, but thinks those can be fixed.
   "I think we need some advancements to make some more horsepower to get up in the top one or two cars," Coughlin said. "I think we are capable of winning at each event we go at. Some of the learning curve items we've gone through the last couple of races, I think we've got that under our belt now.
   "Not winning at this point doesn't concern us a bit. I think there's a lot of great racing left, and as close as the class is running right now, it's going to be exciting."
   Coughlin looks at Kurt and Warren Johnson as racers that everybody is gunning for right now. Coughlin is hoping he can reassert himself as one of the favorites.
   "They've been doing a great job," Coughlin said. "They've been in three or four of the finals so far this year, winning three between Kurt and Warren. Obviously, they're doing a great job."
   Another racer Coughlin sees as a major threat is Greg Anderson.
   "Greg Anderson in the Vegas General Car is probably the front runner as far as elapsed times go," Coughlin said. "But any given day any given team can win. I think our team is ranked right there probably in the top couple to challenge for our third Powerade Points Championship and our fourth total."
   With the season just getting underway, Coughlin expects the action to be very close and exciting.
   "It's going to be a great year," Coughlin said. "We're going into race six here in Bristol and we've had great success here. I've won here in the past and my brother Troy has won here in the past. We've got good data, we've got good feel.
   "You can really work hard on your setup, you can get aggressive here. I think that's why you're going to see such close racing here."