JEGS High Performance Parts is well known in drag racing because father and four brothers who built the mail order business over 50 plus years have also raced what they sell.
In a difficult economy, Team JEGS appears to have stepped it up for 2012 while motorsports sponsorships have waned.
Five-time world champion drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr., 41, announced a return to the NHRA’s Pro Stock Car class in 2012 last November at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. The champion took a year off the pro circuit in 2011. Coughlin will wrestle the wheel of a JEGS.com Mopar-sponsored Dodge Avenger with a 500 cubic inch HEMI motor precision built by in-house JNR Racing Engines operation.
Troy Coughlin, 47, will race his twin-turbocharged JEGS.com Chevy Camaro with new crew chief Steve Petty. For most of 2011 Coughlin raced Jake Hairston’s small-block GTO but while Hairston moves on to JNR Racing Engines, Coughlin will have a guy named Petty tuning his engines. That motorsports namesake won’t hinder his presence by any means.
All four brothers in the Coughlin family, plus Troy Jr., draq race in NHRA pro or sportsman classes while younger offspring race in NHRA’s Junior Dragster class. And then there is the one young renegade grandson who dares to race in circles.
Cody Coughlin, 16, has had a few years of experience already racing Quarter-Midgets in 2008 and has worked his way through Heavy Modified to Late Model Stock Cars.
Cody won the 2011 Howie Lettow Rookie of the Year racing in the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour. In 2012 Team JEGS has hired crew chief Ben “Butch” VanDoorn, 19, who has won 3 consecutive CRA championships. The youthful pair will seek the championship in 2012.
The Coughlins are a talkative group.
Jeg Jr. sees much in his new car and sponsor.
“I can’t wait for what this NHRA season will bring,” Coughlin said. “With the support of JEGS, Mopar and the fans, 2012 can’t help but be a success. The adrenaline is definitely pumping.
“I expect I’ll have jitters first time back in a Pro Stock car. I took off 9 months before. It came back very quickly that time.”
Coughlin is impressed with the level of support the new arrangement will provide.
“The passion Chrysler Technical Center and Mopar folks have for drag racing sport and their brand is invigorating,” he said. “The level of factory support is fantastic. We have the capacity to be frontrunners right from the start.”
Another new crew chief has joined Team JEGS to tune the Dodger Avenger .
“We have hired Tomi Laine, a great team fit,” Coughlin said. “He’s won numerous European championships. I’ve liked the way he carries himself, his work ethic.”
Coughlin will race in the NHRA Full Throttle Series season when it fires up Feb. 9-12 at NHRA Winternationals from Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.
Troy Coughlin almost never seems at a loss for words.
“It takes hard work to get ready but you find motivation the fact every other racer is likely working just as hard,” Coughlin said. With this group of guys and the performance package we’ll be running, we’re going to be a tough out this season.”
Coughlin is impressed with his new crew chief Steve Petty.
“There’s very few people better with a turbo engine than Steve,” he said. . “There’s a reason he won four of the last five races. But even Steve needs some time to become acquainted with this particular racecar. Then let his talent take over.”
Troy’s Pro Mod series 2012 season kicks off at the March 8-11 Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.
JEGS is a NASCAR contingency sponsor and has been on the hood of the No. 2 Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet for two races. That has given Cody Coughlin the opportunity to talk to NASCAR stars like Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon.
“Jeff Gordon told me to learn the data stuff about how much brake you’re using and things like that,” Coughlin said, “He said to learn as much as I could about simulations because that’s the direction the sport is going.”
Cody Coughlin is pleased with his progress last year.
“It was a good year,” he said. “It was a good learning experience, especially jumping from .25-midgets to a Late Model. That’s quite a jump.”
Youth is a big part of this Team JEGS unit with Cody and Butch and they both talk enthusiastically about each other.
“I think he’s the best,” Coughlin said. “He’s really close to my age, so I’ll work well with him. His resume at 19 is better than most. I’m excited. He’s a great guy. My family likes him, I like him. He’s an honest guy, and I’m really excited to work with him.”
VanDoorn is eager to continue his win streak.
“I’d like to continue this streak with Cody,” VanDoorn said. “We’ve got the equipment and everything lined up. I’d like to get some poles, some top-fives, some solid finishes every race and finish every lap to win that championship.”
Cody Coughlin will race in the 46th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, a 10-day event beginning Feb 16 at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna, Florida.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of motorsports topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained from official release materials provided by sanctions, teams or track representatives.