The NHRA’s six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs got off to a great start for five-time Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. as his semifinal finish in Reading, Pa., lifted him from eighth to sixth in the rankings, just 95 points off the lead.
Even so, the versatile veteran knows he needs to keep the gas pedal of his JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro smashed to the floorboard if he hopes to contend for this year’s title. The 81-time national event winner says a big weekend under the arch is imperative.
Jeg Coughlin Jr.
“We feel like we’re arriving at World Wide Technology Raceway with a lot of momentum,” Coughlin said. “We had a great start to the playoffs in Reading. The JEGS Elite Camaro was running very well and if not for the smallest of miscues in the semifinals where we went red by -.002 seconds, we would have had a great chance at taking the trophy home.
“There’s no reason to think that we won’t be strong again this weekend, considering how well we ran in Reading. Some changes were made before that race and everything we hoped would happen appears to be happening now so we’re charged up to drop the clutch Friday and see how we stack up.”
This particular event comes at a great time for Coughlin as he’s had plenty of success at World Wide Technology Raceway in the past. He’s won Pro Stock here on two different occasions, in 2002 and 2009, and was runner-up in the class in 1998, 2007 and 2010. Last year, he was Pro Stock’s No. 1 qualifier at this event. He also collected St. Louis trophies in Super Stock in 1997 and 2003, as well as Top Dragster in 2010.
“Certainly, we’ve enjoyed some great times and had some big runs in St. Louis,” Coughlin said. “Any time you go to a track where you’ve won races in the past it gives you an extra dose of confidence. It’s a really fun track, a Midwest track, so we know there will be a bunch of JEGS fans and customers cheering for us. That’s exciting.”
Coughlin finished as runner-up to the 2018 championship with three wins in five final-round appearances and six No. 1 qualifying efforts. This year, Coughlin won in Phoenix and was low qualifier in Seattle.
“I’m ready to get back behind the wheel and work with the guys again on finding the best path down the quarter-mile in St. Louis,” he said. “I feel strongly that we will challenge for another race win, just as we did in Reading, and I have every confidence in the Elite Motorsports crew.
“It’s a time of the year where you have to be very aggressive. There’s no point in being conservative, especially when you’re not in the lead. There are some great drivers and teams ahead of us but we’re pretty good too.”
EIGHTH ANNUAL AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS
The world’s biggest names in professional drag racing will compete at speeds in excess of 330 miles per hour on WWTR’s drag strip. The event is crucial to all title contenders during the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To purchase tickets or obtain more information about WWTR, please call (618) 215-8888 or visit www.wwtraceway.com. Follow WWTR on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
7:30 a.m. – Spectator gates and parking lots open.
8 am. – Sportsman qualifying.
11 a.m. – Midway open.
2:30 p.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
3:15 p.m. – Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) qualifying.
4 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
5:15 p.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
6 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) qualifying.
6:45 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying, NHRA Prime Time.
7:45 p.m. – Track closed.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
7 a.m. – Spectator gates and parking lots open.
8 a.m. – Sportsman eliminations begin.
10:15 a.m. – Midway opens.
1 p.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
1:45 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) qualifying.
2:30 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
3:45 p.m. – Pro Mod qualifying.
4:30 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) qualifying.
5:15 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying.
8:15 p.m. – Track closed.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
7 a.m. – Parking lots open.
8 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
9 a.m. – Midway open.
10 a.m. – Pre-race ceremonies and SealMaster Track Walk.
11 a.m. – First round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
Noon – First round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) eliminations.
12:30 p.m. – First round of Pro Mod eliminations.
1:10 p.m. – Second round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
1:40 p.m. – Second round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) eliminations.
2 p.m. – Second round of Pro Mod eliminations.
2:35 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car semi-finals.
2:50 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) semi-finals.
3 p.m. – Pro Mod semi-finals.
3:05 p.m. – Final rounds of eliminations for Sportsman, Comp, Factory Stock Showdown.
3:25 p.m. – Jr. Dragsters.
3:30 p.m. – Parade of champions.
3:40 p.m. – Final round of Pro Mod eliminations.
3:45 p.m. – Final round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock (car) eliminations.
3:50 p.m. – Final round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
4 p.m. – Track closed.
Schedule subject to change.
TICKETS: As a reminder, the resale of tickets on WWTR property is strictly prohibited by law. WWTR is not responsible for counterfeit tickets purchased from unauthorized sellers. Your most secure ticket purchase process is to visit the WWTR ticket office and ticket sales locations.
RECOMMENDED ARRIVAL TIMES FOR THE BEST RACE DAY EXPERIENCE:
Friday, September 27 — Midway opens at 11 a.m. with Pro Mod qualifying at 2:15 p.m. The first round of Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying is scheduled for 4 p.m. The second round of nitro qualifying will begin at 6:45 p.m. with NHRA Prime Time. Racing will conclude at approximately 9 p.m.
Saturday, September 28 — Midway opens at 10:15 a.m. with Pro Mod qualifying at 1 p.m. and Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying at 2:30 p.m. The final round of nitro qualifying will take place at 5:15 p.m. Sportsman eliminations will continue until approximately 9 p.m.
Sunday, September 29 — Championship Sunday Midway opens at 9 a.m. Pre-race ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. Eliminations start with Top Fuel Dragster at 11 a.m. We encourage everyone to make their best effort to be on the grounds and in their seats by 10 a.m. for opening ceremonies. Sunday racing final rounds are scheduled to begin at 3:50 p.m. with the event concluding at 4 p.m.