NHRA surprise: Jeg Coughlin Jr. to semi-retire after 2020 season

Photos courtesy JEGS Performance
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One of the most successful drivers in NHRA history, Jeg Coughlin Jr., shocked the sport Saturday during the opening race weekend on the 2020 schedule, revealing this will be his final season of full-time competition.

The news broke at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California, site of this weekend’s Lucas Oil Winternationals, that Coughlin will be stepping away after the season finale, also at Pomona, in early November.

Coughlin has amassed 82 national events wins (63 in Pro Stock) in his NHRA career, as well as five Pro Stock championships (2000, 2002, 2007, 2008 and 2013) and one Super Gas crown (1992),

The Delaware, Ohio native has dubbed the upcoming farewell season as his “Breaking Barriers Tour,” in reference to the many drag racing achievements in his career.

“Since 1997, I’ve been able to live out my biggest childhood dream by racing with my family and following my Dad and older brother Troy into the professional ranks and racing a Pro Stock car,” Coughlin said in a media release. “We’ve been able to win six championships, five in Pro Stock, and 82 national events in a variety of classes. It’s been a remarkable run.

“It certainly hasn’t been an individual effort. It’s taken so many talented crewmen and crew chiefs, engine builders and chassis experts, my incredible family, everyone at JEGS, and all the other companies that have partnered with us through the years. I couldn’t have asked for a better scenario.”

The 1998 Pro Stock Rookie of the Year said that even though he will be stepping away from full-time competition in Pro Stock, he is not completely retiring from the sport. He still plans on racing part-time at the NHRA Sportsman level going forward in 2021 and beyond. He also doesn’t rule out an occasional race back in Pro Stock, according to the media release.

Coughlin will continue to race this season with Elite Motorsports, driving the JEGS.com Chevrolet Camaro, alongside teammate and defending Pro Stock champ Erica Enders. Coughlin finished runner-up to Enders in last year’s Pro Stock championship battle as Enders captured her third championship in the class.

This is a very meaningful season for Coughlin, who will perform his swan song in the 50th year of NHRA’s Pro Stock class, as well as the 60th anniversary year for the Coughlin family and its JEGS Performance Parts company.

Jeg Coughlin Jr.’s championship cars through the years. Image courtesy JEGS Performance.

“This is the 50th year of Pro Stock and the NHRA has some neat things planned to celebrate that milestone,” Coughlin said. “Our company is celebrating its 60th year in business, so we’ll be able to promote that occasion with our race program. Plus, I’m turning 50 so it seems like a bunch of things fell into place to continue into 2020.

“The support of the fans also has driven me for many years. People stopping by and sharing stories or even just hollering the famed ‘JEGGGSSS’ when we roll through the pits is so cool. We’re lucky to have so many supporters.”

Coughlin has been one of the most versatile drag racers in the sport. He’s the only driver to win a national event in seven different classes — including four in one season — and the only professional to win from all 16 qualifying positions.

“We’ve definitely had some fun,” Coughlin said. “And my passion to continue is still there. I’m not hanging up my helmet by any means. It’s just that as we age our priorities shift and other things move to the forefront. It’s been an incredible ride and it’s not an ending, just pulling back a touch.”

Coughlin said no decision has been made on who will replace him in the team’s signature yellow-and-black JEGS-sponsored Camaro next season, but a strong candidate is Jegs’ nephew Troy Coughlin Jr., son of Jeg’s brother Troy Sr.

“I’ve had countless conversations and races alongside Troy Jr. as he was growing up,” Jeg said. “He’s always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps in Pro Stock, and we had a great time in our pre-season testing together. In fact, I made three runs total and he made 21. If the stars align and Pro Stock is indeed his future he would do a remarkable job.”

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NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.