GAINESVILLE, FL – March 16, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Jeg Coughlin Jr. has posted a pair of victories at Gainesville Raceway, the site of the 48th AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. But winning at the historic track never gets old for the five-time Pro Stock world champion, one reason why he is excited for this weekend.
The other was a strong semifinal showing at the most recent NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event in his JEGS.com/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. After struggling for most of 2016, it was just the sign Coughlin was looking for at the start of this season. Breaking through with a win at such a well-revered race like the Gatornationals would give yet one more boost that Coughlin and his team are back on the right track.
“As a kid from Ohio, the Gatornationals was always one of the mega events you’d read about in National Dragster and wish you were there,” said Coughlin, who has 58 career Pro Stock victories. “It’s the first race on the eastern seaboard and always an overflow crowd down there soaking up the sun. You look at the list of past winners and it’s a goosebump-type deal. It’s definitely a race you have to win because you need this one on your resume. To me it’s ranked alongside Pomona, Englishtown and Indy. It’s one of our majors.”
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live finals coverage on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ET). The NHRA’s traditional East Coast opener is the third of 24 races in 2017 and a chance for Coughlin to keep his early-season momentum going.
After finishing an uncharacteristic 10th in points a year ago, Coughlin and Elite Motorsports teammate Erica Enders, the back-to-back world champ in 2014 and 2015, went back to Camaros for 2017 and the early results have been encouraging. Enders advanced to the semifinals in Pomona, while Coughlin’s finish in Phoenix bumped him to third in points.
“The team tested a lot in the off season and we all know these Chevrolets very well so it was just a matter of running under real race conditions and fine-tuning from there,” Coughlin said. “We fully expect all three cars (Coughlin, Enders and Vincent Nobile) in the Elite Motorsports camp to contend for the championship this year. We still have some things we can clean up to make the car better. That’s the challenge of this class: no matter how well you do on a given weekend it seems there always is something you could have done better.”
In this instance, it’s still a matter of chasing down Summit Racing Equipment teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson. The duo has split wins at the first two races this year, a year after they combined for 16 wins and Line claimed the championship. But Coughlin likes the direction his team is headed and he hopes for even more progress – and his first win since 2014 – at Gainesville.
“Just success in general is a boost, no matter what you did or didn’t do in the past,” Coughlin said. “In our sport you’re only remembered for the last race, for the most part, so you’re constantly feeling the need to prove yourself. I know the guys are very focused on showing everyone they still have the same desire and passion they displayed in 2014 and 2015 when Erica won her two championships. That’s another thing that has us very excited this year — no one left the team so we have the same group in place that won all those races.”
Brittany Force earned her first career Top Fuel win last year but she will have to deal with Leah Pritchett, who has won the first two races of 2017, and back-to-back world champ Antron Brown.
Hight’s Funny Car win last year gave John Force Racing its first double-up weekend in team history, but he will have to deal with the likes of Matt Hagan, who won the first two races of 2017.
Pro Stock Motorcycle makes its 2017 debut at the race. Jerry Savoie claimed his first world title last year and looks to start fast against the likes of Krawiec, Andrew Hines and Angelle Sampey.
The event is the season-opener for the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series and features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System. Jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers with an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:45 and 4:15 p.m. on Friday, March 17 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, March 18 at 12:00 and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 19.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
AMALIE MOTOR OIL NHRA GATORNATIONALS
WHAT: 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, the third of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. Competition also will be featured in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series and the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series.
WHERE: Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Fla. The track is located on 11211 North County Road 225 in Gainesville.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, March 16-19
THURSDAY, March 16 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 8:30 a.m.
FRIDAY, March 17 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at noon and 3:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 12:45 and 4:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, March 18 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 1:45 p.m. Round 1 of eliminations at 4:15 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, March 19 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Sunday, March 19, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 1 p.m. (ET).
2016 EVENT WINNERS:
Brittany Force, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Warren Johnson, 9, PS; John Force, 7, FC; Don Prudhomme, 5, Greg Anderson 5 PS, FC; Joe Amato, 4, TF; Kenny Bernstein, 4, FC/TF; Larry Dixon, 4, TF; Don Garlits, 4, TF; Eddie Krawiec, 4, PSM; Jason Line, 4, PS; Ed McCulloch, 4, FC; Tony Schumacher, 4, TF; Dave Schultz, 4, PSM; Terry Vance, 4, PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.698 seconds by Richie Crampton, March ’16; 329.02 mph by Spencer Massey, March ‘15.
Funny Car – 3.879 seconds by Jack Beckman, March ’16; 329.26 mph by Beckman, March ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.473 seconds by Mike Edwards, March ’12; 214.69 mph by Erica Enders, March ’14.
PS Motorcycle – 6.750 seconds by Eddie Krawiec, March ’12; 199.26 mph by Krawiec, March ’11.
Top Fuel – 3.658 sec. by Leah Pritchett, Feb. ’17, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by 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: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the second of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Leah Pritchett, 245; 2. Tony Schumacher, 153; 3. Brittany Force, 151; 4. Antron Brown, 143; 5. Doug Kalitta, 140; 6. Steve Torrence, 110; 7. Shawn Reed, 99; 8. (tie) Troy Coughlin Jr., 84; Scott Palmer, 84; 10. (tie) Terry McMillen, 80.
Clay Millican, 80.
1. Matt Hagan, 240; 2. Ron Capps, 178; 3. Courtney Force, 140; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 134; 5. John Force, 112; 6. J.R. Todd, 105; 7. Jim Campbell, 102; 8. (tie) Jack Beckman, 90; Tim Wilkerson, 90; 10. Robert Hight, 88.
1. Greg Anderson, 225; 2. Jason Line, 195; 3. Jeg Coughlin, 132; 4. Bo Butner, 131; 5. Tanner Gray, 129; 6. Drew Skillman, 124; 7. Vincent Nobile, 117; 8. Shane Gray, 110; 9. Erica Enders, 107; 10. Chris McGaha, 66.
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 24 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 program 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; Gainesville Raceway 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