Five-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. appears to be peaking at the right time as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series prepares for this weekend’s seventh annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. Just one race into the Countdown to the Championship, Coughlin’s JEGS.com Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro is running at the top of the charts, as witnessed last weekend in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he qualified second overall.
“It’s a very exciting time,” Coughlin said. “We are heading to Round 2 of 6 in this year’s playoffs and we have a great hot rod on our hands. We were very quick every single round in Reading, qualified second by just a fraction to my teammate Erica Enders, and definitely had a car that could have won the race.
“Pro Stock is a zero-tolerance world. The preparation during the week, the calls you make during the day, driving down the track — it all has to be perfect. There’s no room for error because any one of the 10 cars in the Countdown are capable of winning, and even a few outside the top 10 have a chance to strike.”
Although he was nipped by .007 seconds in the second round of Reading eliminations, Coughlin knows he has a great chance to add to his collection of five Gateway trophies. He previously won here in 2002 and 2009 in Pro Stock, 1997 and 2003 in Super Stock, and 2010 in Top Dragster.
“St. Louis, like many of the tracks on tour, is a place where we’ve had great success in the past,” Coughlin said. “That always pumps you up because those memories are all positive. It’s performance time, plain and simple, and we plan to just continue what we did in Reading and just win more rounds on Sunday.
“I’m also excited to be racing with brother Mike (Coughlin) again. He’s got a massively updated ride and tells me it’s really looking promising. Mike’s put together a fun group to hang around so we’ll have some laughs for sure. My wife Samantha also is racing for the first time in a while and I know she’s excited to contest Super Comp once again in her JEGS.com dragster. It’s going to be a big weekend.”
Mike returns to Top Dragster action with a completely revamped JEGS.com rail, hopeful his new ride will equal big success on the drag strip.
“We have the same car but pretty much everything has changed besides the paint job the crew and the driver,” said Mike, a two-time Division 3 champion. “We put a PSI screw blower on the car to make it more consistent whenever we encounter weather changes. We also changed the transmission, removed the rear suspension and back-halved it. I believe we now have the perfect car for Top Dragster competition.
“A lot of work has gone into this car since we last raced in Norwalk and I’m thankful to everyone at Dan Page Race Cars, Ryan Micke and the group at ComSYNC EFI, and my crew guys, Tony Collier, Greg Cody and Dave Raurk. I’m really excited to get back in the seat, especially after testing went so well. It’s been too long.”
AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park
The second of six races in the NHRA playoffs, GMP’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will feature the incredible thrills of 10,000-horsepower, nitromethane-burning cars reaching speeds in excess of 330 miles per hour. Fans will be entertained under the lights during Friday qualifying and then get to experience the intense, high-stakes action on Sunday as the top stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle battle for critical championship points.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event.
The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, which will have its 10th of 12 races.
Fans will also have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with a few of the most renowned names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This will feature meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. The legends scheduled to attend the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals include Shirley Muldowney and others.
Along with the exciting on-track action, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will honor first responders with NHRA’s Salute to First Responders celebration.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult.
Vegas rockabilly headliners Danny Dean & The Homewreckers will play in the new pavilion bar on the midway on Friday and Saturday.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
7:30 a.m. – Parking lots open.
8 a.m. – Spectator gates open. Sportsman qualifying.
Noon — Midway opens.
2:30 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle autograph session at NHRA midway display.
3 p.m. — NHRA guided walking tour. Starts at the Mello Yello display.
3:15 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
4 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock car qualifying session.
4:30 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
5:45 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
6:15 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock car qualifying session.
7 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
7:30 a.m. – Parking lots open.
8 a.m. – Spectator gates open. Sportsman eliminations.
9:30 a.m. — Midway opens.
12:15 p.m. — Nitro School. Hosted by Robert Hight and Alan Reinhart.
1 p.m. — Autograph session at the Mello Yello display.
1:15 p.m. — NHRA guided walking tour. Starts at the Mello Yello display.
1:30 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
2:15 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock car qualifying session.
3 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
3:45 p.m. – First round of Factory Stock Showdown.
5 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock car qualifying session.
5:30 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
7:30 a.m. – Parking lots open.
8 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
9 a.m. — Midway opens; NHRA guided walking tour starts at the Mello Yello display.
9:30 a.m. — Sealmaster Trackwalk.
9:45 a.m. – Race day review, pre-race ceremonies.
11 a.m. – First round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
Noon – First round of Pro Stock eliminations.
12: 20 p.m. – First round of Pro Mod eliminations.
1 p.m. – Second round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
1:15 p.m. – Second round of Pro Stock eliminations.
1:30 p.m. — Pro Mod semi-finals.
2 p.m. — Factory Stock Showdown semi-finals.
2:10 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car semi-finals.
2:30 p.m. — Pro Stock semi-finals.
2:45 p.m. — Pro Mod final eliminations.
3 p.m. — Factory Stock Showdown final eliminations.
3:40 p.m. — Pro Stock final eliminations.
3:45 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car final eliminations.
Schedule subject to change.
For more information on Gateway Motorsports Park, please call (618) 215-8888. Follow GMP on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
About Gateway Motorsports Park
Gateway Motorsports Park is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. Gateway Motorsports Park’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, 1.6-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue. Gateway Motorsports Park was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award from the Race Track Business Conference and the 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Award from St. Louis Attractions Association.