Coughlin Gives Mopar Win at Carolina Nationals and Closes Gap to the Leader in NHRA’s “Countdown to Championship”
· Mopar’s Coughlin wins 6th annual Carlyle Tools Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway and first NHRA event in the ‘Countdown to the Championship”
· Second seed Hagan drives Mopar machine to runner-up finish and maintains championship lead
· Coughlin moves JEGS.com Mopar into second place in Pro Stock championship points standing; just 10 points from the leader
Concord, N.C. (Sunday, September 15, 2013) – Mopar driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. earned a hard fought Pro Stock title win at the 6th annual Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals while Matt Hagan drove his Mopar machine to a runner-up finish to maintain his lead in the Funny Car class following the conclusion of the first of six playoff events in the 2013 edition of the NHRA “Countdown to the Championship”.
Coughlin’s third win of the season and the 55th in his career came by defeating No.1 qualifier Jason Line in final eliminations after dispatching Greg Stanfield, Shane Gray, and points leader Mike Edwards in the semis.
The JEGS.com Dodge Avenger driver won the final showdown on a holeshot with a 0.026-second reaction time and 6.583 seconds (210.05 mph) elapsed time pass to Line’s run of 6.578 (210.97 mph).
“The entire Mopar J&J crew and the entire JEGS.com crew did a fantastic job I had just a phenomenal racecar in all eight runs,” Coughlin said. “It wasn’t the fastest car but by god it was real close. You just have to go out there and perform the best you can and fortunately I was able to steal a couple (of seconds) off the starting line and put the yellow and black Dodge Avenger right out front. It takes a family of effort to pull this off and we love getting our first victory [of the countdown] here in Charlotte.”
“All of us at Mopar are thrilled to see Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) earn his third win of the year and get the playoffs started on such a great note at the Carolina Nationals,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “His wins reinforce the strong efforts and steady improvements that have been made throughout the season to the HEMI®-powered Dodge entries through the partnership with Mopar and J&J Racing this season. It’s a fantastic way to start the Countdown.”
The victory propelled Coughlin into second place in the standings, just ten points from the leader, and past his Mopar teammate and defending world champion Allen Johnson who dropped down to fourth. Line sits between them in third spot on the merits of his runner-up finish.
“The parity isn’t really what any of us had in mind,” said Coughlin of how close the Pro Stock competition has been. “I think the top ten cars are separated by two hundredths of a second and that’s great. It gives our fans great side-by-side racing and that’s what they love to see.”
“With five races remaining now in the Countdown, every point counts,” Coughlin added. “We are looking at every point we can get. It’s game time. This is the Countdown. This is the excitement of Mello Yello Drag Racing.”
While Johnson posted the low e.t (6.558) of the first round for the win against Larry Morgan, the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger driver posted a 6.567-second e.t. (211.16mph) in his next match up against Erica Enders (6.586 / 209.36) only to lose on a holeshot with a 0.060 to 0.029-second reaction time. HEMI-powered teammate Vincent Nobile lost his first round match-up to Line, who then defeated the other Mopar of V. Gaines in the second round. Nobile and Gaines are now sixth and ninth, respectively, in the points standings.
In Funny Car action, seeded second for the elimination rounds after a three-second run in Friday night qualifying, Hagan drove his “Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar” / Rocky Boots race car to his team’s eighth final round appearance of the year. The Don Schumacher Racing driver beat Jeff Arend, John Force and his Mopar teammate and defending world champion Jack Beckman on his way to the final.
With the confidence of four wins under his belt this season, Hagan staged his Dodge Charger R/T against Robert Hight. With the starting line advantage going to Hight with a 0.055-second reaction time to Hagan’s 0.074, the Mopar driver chased down his opponent posting a 4.066 second (313.58 mph) elapsed time run to the winner’s 4.083 (312.64 mph)pass.
“The end result was a holeshot loss and when you lose that way the driver has to own it,” Hagan said. “It’s tough because you have to come back and face the guys and you want to give them everything you have and not be the weak link and I was today. I have to go back and work hard and dig deep and keep trying to turn on win lights.”
The good news is that Hagan extended his first place standing in the Funny Car championship with an 82 point lead over his DSR Mopar teammate Ron Capps who only made it to the second round of eliminations. Jack Beckman jumped up into fourth spot in the points by advancing to the semifinals before his Mopar teammate, Hagan, halted his progress. Fellow Mopar driver Johnny Gray saw his day come to a premature end with a first round loss to John Force to find himself seventh in the standings.