The 2018 Pro Stock NHRA Mello Yello Series season was one of revival for Jeg Coughlin Jr.
Coughlin, a five-time Pro Stock world champion his last coming in 2013, won three races last season and was runner-up twice in his Jegs.com/Elite Performance Chevy Camaro. He finished second in the world standings behind Tanner Gray, who has left the NHRA ranks to pursue a NASCAR career.
Coughlin reflected fondly about 2018 and is preparing for 2019 with high hopes.
“It (2018) was a transition for us,” Coughlin said. “The previous two years (2016 and 2017) since joining Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports group the results weren’t quite where we all anticipated certainly after they came off two really strong championship runs in 2014 and 2015 (with Erica Enders). So, last year felt great. I felt good behind the wheel and our team has a lot of fun racing together and I think that’s what helped us build a bond in the first two years (2016 and 2017) when things weren’t going quite as planned. We made a little transition with the cars about five races into the season last year and we really started clicking.”
Coughlin said Enders will likely start the season in her brand-new Rick Jones Camaro at the Wimternationals Feb. 7-10 in Pomona, Calif., and he will debut his new Camaro at the Gatornationals March 14-17 in Gainesville, Fla.
“I think that gives us the confidence we can hopefully pick up right where we left off (with his 2018 Camaro),” Couighlin said. “We had a very strong program and we ran really well in the Countdown Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays we couldn’t get it going like we liked. I think we take a lot of great momentum from 2018 and confidence and I can’t wait to hit the track.”
According to Coughlin, Enders will test Jan. 6-8 in Bradenton, Fla., in the 2018 Camaro Coughlin drove last season.
“The car is in good shape, it is just enhancements to the motor program,” Coughlin said. “There has been a lot of Research and Development since Pomona (in November) and our engine shop at Elite Performance is working hard to find some more horsepower and they felt like they have found quite a bit more and now we just need to get to be happy and efficient going down the race track.”
Coughlin said his team plans on testing again in Phoenix and he will be behind the wheel, Feb. 3-5, and then go to Pomona for the Winternationals.
“Testing is very important,” Coughlin said. “We will start to figure things out in Bradenton and go from there. This team never sleeps. Richard Freeman is a go, go, go kind of fella and he never stops, and I think it is going to be a good year for us.”
The biggest change in 2019 for the Pro Stock class is the fact its race schedule was reduced from 24 to 18 races something Coughlin talked about.
“I’m certainly in favor of it,” Couglin said about the new schedule. “I was in favor of a 16 to 18 race schedule and we’ve talked about that with NHRA and the administration probably six or eight years or so. I certainly supported the changes they wanted to make, and it will be interesting to see how the class continues to build. There is still a lot of interest for Hot Rods from Detroit and naturally-aspirated horsepower and we will be at the forefront of entertaining fans.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019