NHRA: Jeg Coughlin Jr. begins quest for sixth Pro Stock championship this weekend

NHRA
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He may have lost at “The Big Go,” but that won’t stop Jeg Coughlin Jr. as he begins his quest for a sixth career NHRA Pro Stock championship this weekend.

Coughlin just barely missed winning the U.S. Nationals in the final round last Monday, Sept. 3, falling to Tanner Gray in a very close finish.

Gray got a quicker jump at the start line and covered the quarter-mile in 6.641 seconds at a slightly faster 208.42 mph, to Coughlin’s 6.639 seconds at 206.80 mph.

Jeg Coughlin Jr.

But there was still some consolation to be found for Coughlin and his Jeg’s team: they solidified a fourth-place starting spot in the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which begin this weekend with the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pennsylvania.

Coughlin, driver of the Jegs.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro, begins the playoffs just 40 points behind Gray, who leads the 10 playoff drivers in the Pro Stock category.

Coughlin rolled past No. 7 qualifier Alex Laughlin, four-time NHRA Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson and defending series champ Bo Butner to reach his fourth final round of the season (in the first 18 races).

Even though he lost by only a few feet to Gray, Coughlin managed to improve from fifth to fourth place with that runner-up run heading into the playoffs.

“I’m so impressed with this Elite Motorsports team,” Coughlin said. “To go from 11th in the points 10 races ago all the way up to No. 4 against this talented field of drivers speaks volumes about the fight in this team.

“I’m very proud of the guys and the momentum we’ve gained.”

With the way he’s climbed up the rankings in the last 10 races, as well as being a five-time Pro Stock season champion (2000, 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2013; he also won the Sportsman Super Gas title in 1992), Coughlin can easily be considered one of the top challengers for the Pro Stock championship this season.

And while losing Indy hurt, it also can provide motivation going forward into the playoffs.

“Losing the ‘Big Go’ is probably gonna sting a little longer than a normal race,” said Coughlin, who comes into this weekend looking for his fourth Pro Stock win of 2018, having previously won this season at Chicago, Bristol and Sonoma. “But the gains we made on the pack under game day conditions certainly has us dreaming big about the playoffs.

“We’re ready to kick things off strong at a Maple Grove, a track I really enjoy. There are so many great cars top to bottom and every run will feel like a final round for the next six events, which we love. It’s going to be very exciting.”

NOTES: While the Dodge NHRA Nationals are slated to run from Thursday through Sunday, NHRA officials and teams are keeping a close eye on the weather. Hurricane Florence could potentially impact the area with heavy rain, particularly on Friday through Sunday.

For now, the race is on. We here at NBC Sports’ MotorSportsTalk will keep you advised if things change weather-wise as the week progresses.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead

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With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.


In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list