Win in All-Mopar Final at Reading Gives Coughlin NHRA Championship Lead
· Coughlin wins Pro Stock title at 29th annual Auto-Plus® NHRA Nationals to give Mopar the lead in NHRA “Countdown to the Championship”
· Coughlin beats Mopar teammate Johnson on a holeshot by one-thousandths of a second
· Johnson’s runner-up finish puts him fourth in the championship standings, 73 points behind the new points leader
· Hagan leaves Maple Grove Raceway with the ‘Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar’ Dodge Charger R/T second in Funny Car points
Reading, Pa (October 6, 2013) – A dramatic finish in an all-Mopar final elimination Pro Stock showdown at the 29th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals gave Jeg Coughlin Jr. the lead in the NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” with a title win over teammate Allen Johnson earned by just one-thousandths of a second on a holeshot. The Jegs.com Mopar Dodge Avenger driver scored his second win of the six-event playoff series, the fourth of the NHRA Mello Yello series season and the 56th national title of his career.
“To come out with the points lead certainly feels fantastic, but we’ve got a lot of racing left,” said Coughlin who took over the top spot with two nationals events remaining. “We’d love to say this thing is all but over, but there’s a lot of racing left and we’re looking forward to it. To get that win in such a huge final round, that was big for us.
To advance to the final, Coughlin defeated Larry Morgan, Shane Gray and Jason Line, and with his title win relegated the previous leader, Mike Edwards, to second place with a 45 point deficit.
“Everyone at Mopar is excited to see Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) earn his second win of the playoffs and the lead in the Countdown,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “All season long there has been a lot of hard work and effort to get the HEMI-powered Dodge entries in position to defend Mopar’s Pro Stock championship. It’s great to see Mopar performance rewarded with our two drivers battling it out in a final elimination and now have an advantage in points with just two race events left.”
Coughlin had an impressive 0.004 second reaction time against Johnson’s 0.033 seconds to beat the defending Pro Stock champ at the line by 0.0017 seconds.
“I saw my win light come on and that’s when the celebration began,” said Coughlin. “The J&J team did a heck of a job to get both our cars in the finals.”
“It was a great match up and I had to dig deep but didn’t quite get it done and I’m disappointed with myself,” said Johnson who defeated Greg Stanfield, Erica Enders-Stevens and Greg Anderson on the way to facing his Mopar teammate. “We had a great car all weekend and I’m very proud of the job the Mopar Express Lane crew did with the car and engine. We’ll have our work cut out for us to try to catch and beat Jeg [Coughlin Jr.] but we’re going to give it all we’ve got.
Johnson posted an elapsed time of 6.588 seconds at 209.39 mph in his runner-up finish to Coughlin’s 6.616 second at 208.75 mph pass. It was the third time this season that the two had met in a final elimination, with this edition serving as the tiebreaker in Coughlin’s favor. Despite the loss, Johnson gained two positions in the standings this weekend, moving from sixth to fourth and is 73 points behind the new points leader. Heading into the final two events, he knows that the two Mopar entries won’t be doing anything different than they have all year long even if they find themselves battling once again on track or for the championship.
“I’m very proud of this whole team because we worked together as a team, put a HEMI in the winner’s circle and into the points lead and we’re going to keep going after it.”
In Funny Car action, Matt Hagan and his ‘Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar’ Dodge Charger R/T didn’t quite have the kind of results at Maple Grove Raceway that he had hoped would keep him atop the standings where he had been since June after a win at the Englishtown, N.J., Summernationals.
Hagan saw any chance of doing so go up in tire smoke in a second round loss to his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps. As a result, the Mopar pilot ceded the championship lead to the eventual event winner, 15-time NHRA Champion John Force, who had a near perfect weekend posting his first career three second run and No.1 qualifier honours.
“It’s just one of those deals,” said a disappointed Hagan, who now sits 65 points behind the new leader. “We just have to keep working hard and this team always works hard. No matter what happens on race day it isn’t for a lack of effort. I’m still proud of every one of my guys. These boys are working really hard to keep things moving forward and that’s what we’ll do going into Vegas.”
Directly behind Hagan in Funny Car standings is defending NHRA Champ Jack Beckman, who came into race day seeded third, but lost the chance to advance in eliminations and the points with a first round loss to Alexis DeJoria.
After beating teammates Johnny Gray and Hagan in the first two rounds, Capps was the lone Mopar left to halt Force’s gains in the championship battle with a semifinal match up. Capps fell short when he lost traction on his run but remains sixth in points while Gray trails in eighth spot.
Mopar drivers and teams will continue the fight to defend two NHRA World Championships in three weeks at 13th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas, Nev., for the fourth of six playoff events in the NHRA Mello Yello Series “Countdown to the Championship”.