NHRA: Can Jeg Coughlin Jr. go from third career hiatus to yet another Pro Stock title?

(Photos courtesy Team Jegs)
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There’s no question Jeg Coughlin Jr. is one of the most successful drag racers in NHRA Pro Stock history, with 58 national event wins and five national NHRA championships.

But, as late broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, now you’re going to know the rest of the story about Coughlin – and it’s a unique story indeed.

Twice during his 20-year Pro Stock career, the Ohio resident has taken a hiatus from racing to either spend more time with his family or deal with his burgeoning auto parts business.

When he returned from those layoffs, Coughlin would ultimately go on to win yet another championship each time:

* He missed most of 2006, only to return and win the championship in 2007 (his third) – and then again in 2008 (fourth).

* He sat out all of 2011, came back to finish ninth in 2012 and then went on to win his fifth championship in 2013.

jeg coughlin car shot

For the third time in his career, he took another break from racing in 2015. He missed most of the season until he was lured back to drive in a handful of races for Elite Motorsports.

Now, Coughlin is hoping to come back from his respite to win yet another championship.

So far, so good.

Coughlin comes into this weekend’s Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado, ranked ninth in the Pro Stock standings.

This is a very important race for Coughlin, who drives the Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart. First, he wants to do well because the race is sponsored by Mopar, which is one of his primary sponsors.

“I love Denver and I’m busting with pride to represent Mopar, Dodge, and Magneti Marelli throughout the weekend,” Coughlin said. “We do our best to put them in a positive spotlight every race, but we know this one is really big for them, so it makes it vitally important for us.”
But Coughlin also knows success at Denver won’t be easy for him nor most of the other pro drivers. With the city being a mile above sea level, Pro Stock cars – as well as their Top Fuel and Funny Car counterparts – perform differently in the light oxygen than at all other NHRA tracks and events.
jeg coughlan body pic

“Denver is a tough race for a lot of reasons,” Coughlin said in an NHRA media release. “We’ve still got work to do on the performance side of things.”

Second, Coughlin hopes to further improve upon his hopes to secure a place in the upcoming six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs that begin six races from now, following the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis.

“We’ve got some strong races coming up with the Western Swing, Brainerd (Minn.), and Indianapolis, and we really need to be on our best behavior,” Coughlin said.

But there’s also good news heading into Denver.

“Our confidence is building in the engine shop, our confidence is building at the track,” Coughlin said. “It’s never too late for that to happen.”

Coughlin comes into this weekend ninth in the Pro Stock standings. Admittedly, he’s struggled through much of the season, as has his teammate, Erica Enders, who won the last two NHRA Pro Stock championships.

Much of the problem for both drivers has been adapting to a new fuel injection system in Pro Stock cars for 2016, so much so that if the Countdown were to start today, Enders would not qualify, as she is currently ranked one spot below the cutoff, in 11th place.

That’s why it’s important for both Coughlin and Enders to kick off the three-race “Western Swing” with strong outings in the rarified air of Denver.

“If there’s ever a time to put our best foot forward, this is it,” Coughlin said. “We’re also looking at the start of the Western Swing, a pretty vital time to prepare for the Countdown to the Championship.
“The work put in by this Elite Motorsports crew has been phenomenal to see. There’s little doubt these guys have an unparalleled passion for winning, and I can see why they won the last two championships with my teammate Erica Enders. We’re still finding our way, but everyone knows it’s time to mash the gas and make a move. We’ll be ready.”

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Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”