CHARLOTTE, NC – September 14, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season did not go as planned for Pro Stock standout Jeg Coughlin Jr.
But the five-time world champion won’t have to wait long to try to make amends and with the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship starting, the veteran also knows there’s a chance to finish 2016 with a flourish.
To this point it has been a struggle for Coughlin and his Magneti Marelli/Elite/JEGS.com Dodge Dart GT, as he slipped into the 10th and final spot in the Countdown to the Championship. But there is still time for a turnaround starting at this weekend’s Countdown to the Championship opener, the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
“We are fired up to have a fresh start,” Coughlin said. “We have a chance and that’s put a pep in everyone’s step. This team’s worked so hard and we’ve really made some good headway lately so there is reason to be optimistic.
“There’s no question we cannot miss a beat starting right now. There isn’t some magic elixir or bullet we’ve been saving. We’ll do what we know has worked in the past and that’s to stick to the basics.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) bettered the competition a year ago at a race that will be broadcast on FS1 for the first time. It is the 18th of 24 races in 2016 and the first of six races in the NHRA’s six-race playoffs.
The sense of urgency for Coughlin is apparent and he remains optimistic the entire Elite Motorsports team can find its groove at the most important juncture of the season. Starting from the 10th position isn’t ideal, but getting hot in Charlotte could make things interesting down the stretch for Coughlin, who has chased down titles in the Countdown to the Championship format before in his stellar career.
“We’ve been in this Countdown format since 2007 so I think we all know and understand how it works with the points resetting and the field tightening up,” said Coughlin, who has 58 career Pro Stock victories. “It’s a fresh start for many of us and we’ve been on both ends of this equation in the past so we have a good feeling for how it all works. Bottom line is you need to be strong in the Countdown.”
Coughlin enters the Countdown to the Championship having lost in the first round at four of the past five races, but he remains steadfast that he can have an impact when it comes to competing for a championship.
“This is a team of champions, from the drivers to the engine builders to the crew, (and) we’ve all won multiple titles,” Coughlin said. “We’re going to go race these last six events as hard as we can and try to make something happen. There’s no question we have a steep mountain ahead of us but we’ll make the best of this second chance, for sure.”
In Top Fuel, Brown will take the points lead into the Countdown, but he’ll have to get by a host of talented drivers, including Doug Kalitta, who is second in points, Steve Torrence, three-time 2016 winner Brittany Force, and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher.
The stout Funny Car field is led by Ron Capps, who has five victories this season and will start the Countdown to the Championship with the points lead.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hines a three-time NHRA Carolina Nationals winner, is red-hot with five victories and the points lead, taking the win in Indy.
The NHRA Carolina Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series as well as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the sport earn their racing stripes. As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:15 and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 12:45 and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, Sept. 18.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-455-FANS (3267). Tickets also are available online at www.zmaxdragway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA CAROLINA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: Ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, the 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the first of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: zMAX Dragway – Track is located on Hwy 29 off I-85 at exit 49 (Speedway Blvd.) in the Concord, N.C. area.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 630 feet above sea level.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Sept. 16-18
FRIDAY, Sept. 16 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 2:30 and 5 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 3:15 and 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, Sept. 17 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 12:15 p.m.; first round of eliminations at 2:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 12:45 and 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, Sept. 18 – Pre-race ceremonies, 11 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon
Friday, Sept. 16, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 18, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 11 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 18, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 2:30 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS:
Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Del Worsham, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Top Fuel – 3.713 sec. by J.R. Todd, March ’15; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12.
Funny Car – 3.934 sec. by Alexis DeJoria, April ’16; 323.50 mph by Matt Hagan, April ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15; 215.48 mph by Greg Anderson, March ’15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.794 sec. and 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.832 by Del Worsham, Aug. ’16, Seattle; 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (800) 455-FANS. Tickets also are available online at www.zmaxdragway.com.
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) entering into the NHRA Carolina Nationals, the first race of the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
1. Antron Brown, 2,110; 2. Doug Kalitta, 2,080; 3. Steve Torrence, 2,070; 4. Tony Schumacher, 2,060; 5. Brittany Force, 2,050; 6. J.R. Todd, 2,040; 7. Shawn Langdon, 2,030; 8. Clay Millican, 2,020; 9. Richie Crampton, 2,010; 10. Leah Pritchett, 2,000.
1. Ron Capps, 2,110; 2. Del Worsham, 2,080; 3. Matt Hagan, 2,070; 4. Courtney Force, 2,060; 5. Jack Beckman, 2,050; 6. Robert Hight, 2,040; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,030; 8. John Force, 2,020; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,010; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 2,000.
1. Jason Line, 2,110; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,080; 3. Bo Butner, 2.070; 4. Allen Johnson, 2,060; 5. Vincent Nobile, 2,050 6. Drew Skillman, 2,040; 7. Chris McGaha, 2,030; 8. Shane Gray, 2,020; 9. Erica Enders, 2,010; 10. Jeg Coughlin, 2,000.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Andrew Hines, 2,110; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2,080; 3. Angelle Sampey, 2,070; 4. Jerry Savoie, 2,060; 5. LE Tonglet, 2,050; 6. Chip Ellis, 2,040; 7. Hector Arana Jr, 2,030; 8. Hector Arana, 2,020; 9. Matt Smith, 2,010; 10. Cory Reed, 2,000.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association