Jeg Coughlin, Jr. and Jason Line, two of Pro Stock’s all-time greats, head into this weekend’s season-ending Dodge NHRA Finals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway full of bittersweet emotions, as the two drivers who combine for an impressive 116 professional victories suit up for the final time in their illustrious driving careers.
Most fittingly, the drivers who represent competing high-performance mail order businesses, are each 50 years of age, and will retire in the same year, go into the finale tied in the points standings following an abbreviated NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Just 55 points back of Erica Enders and with points-and-a-half on the line in the epic conclusion to the wildest season in NHRA history, both have a shot at riding off into the sunset a champion. And rather than soak in the moments of this final farewell, the JEGS and Summit teams will be all business as they seek out what would be a sixth Pro Stock title for Coughlin and a fourth for Line.
“I’m very excited,” Coughlin said. “I have tremendous faith in the team and I know we’ll be holding nothing back. We’ve got nothing to lose. We’ll need a lucky break along the way but we definitely have a decent chance to get it done if we do our jobs. Having two horses in the race is a real credit to everyone at Elite. Richard Freeman (team owner) has put together an incredible group of the very best mechanics, crew chiefs and engine builders in the sport. Hopefully we can finish 1-2 again. Obviously, if you talk to me, I want to be the champ, and if you talk to Erica, she’s anxious to win it as well, but we also root for each other. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
“This is a final hurrah in many respects,” Coughlin adds. “There are three of us in the hunt for this championship, two from Elite Motorsports with Erica (Enders) and myself, and I know how much we’d all love to close out with a bang.
“It’s hard to believe this is it, the final race,” said Line, who enters the event with 51 Pro Stock wins on record. “I’ve been looking forward to it, but I’ve also been enjoying each of these last few races. It’s been an interesting season, without a doubt, and I’m thankful to have had my family with me so much this year. The circumstances that made that possible weren’t great, but having them with me out here was special.”
Line’s family, including wife Cindy and children Jack and Emma, will be with him again this weekend as he races for the final time.
“It’s been a short season, but it hasn’t been an easy season, not by any means,” he said. “Every championship has meaning of its own, and this year, it would certainly mean something different than it ever has before. There’s definitely still a chance to win it with the silver Summit Racing Chevy Camaro, and I would really like that for all of us in this camp, for Ken Black, and for Summit Racing. It would be a nice going away present.”
Like Line, Coughlin’s focus as he steps away from the driver’s seat is on his family and spending more time at home and in operating the family business.
“I’ve reflected back on my 20-plus years in this class a lot in the last 8-9 months, ever since I committed to the decision to step away,” Coughlin said. “I’ve tried to use those collective memories to fuel my drive, and it’s worked out for the most part. We aren’t closing the book for good. We’ll still race occasionally; but at the same time I’m excited about spending a lot more time with my family and at JEGS.
“The thing I’ll miss the most is the fans,” Coughlin goes on to say. “Going back to the start of my career when I was racing in the sportsman ranks, they’ve always been so supportive of JEGS and our racing endeavors. There are even half a dozen kids out there named Jeg in our honor, which is just unreal. It shows the true passion of drag racing fans. No matter what happens moving forward, I will always be ready to help the sport grow.”