It was Force’s third consecutive final round appearance and the 15-time world champ has surged from 10th to third place in the last three races. Hagan said his adrenaline was overflowing for that final round with the NHRA icon.
“John [Force] is tough so we knew we had to run well and that 4.06 in the final was stout,” said Hagan, who leads second place Cruz Pedregon by 106 points. “[Crew chief] Dickie [Venebles] and the crew have done a great job with this car. I just had to hang on and get it to the finish line.”
In Pro Stock, Coughlin raced to his second win of the season and fifth at Route 66 Raceway when he drove his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger away from final round opponent Greg Anderson. Coughlin covered the distance in 6.603 at 209.85 while Anderson’s Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro lost traction near mid-track and slowed.
“When I let out the clutch, the car didn’t feel the best that it had all day, and by the time I got into second and third gear I was just cracking the whip on the thing as hard as I could,” said Coughlin, who moved into second place in the standings with the win. “I didn’t know that Greg was struggling next to me, but to see that win light come on in my lane and to have such a huge win here feels amazing.”
Coughlin outran Bristol winner Rodger Brogdon, Jason Line and teammate and Epping winner Allen Johnson to get to the final. He says getting the victory here put a big yellow and black bow on an outstanding weekend for the entire JEGS operation.
“It certainly didn’t hurt taking out one of the Summit cars [Anderson] in the final,” said Coughlin of his 54th career victory. “But I think that the big exclamation point is that this was the weekend of the JEGS Allstars, which is a huge, huge deal for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and all the Sportsman racers. We put a lot of effort into this weekend, and I think that’s been a little bit of the ingredient that has contributed to our success at this track.”
Ray earned his second win of the season and third of his career in Pro Stock Motorcycle by defeating former teammate Matt Smith in the final round. Ray used a near-perfect reaction time and powered his Soeverign-Star Racing Buell to a 6.986 at 191.29 to hold off Smith’s charging Viper Motorcycle Company Buell, which finished in 6.992 at 190.22.
“Most people know that I rode for Matt last year and we do have a little bit of a rivalry,” Ray said. “When I moved to Star I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve won two races so far and it was especially nice to beat my old crew chief. This was definitely a bit of redemption.”
Ray used a string of mid-6.9 second runs to defeat Epping winner John Hall, teammate Scotty Pollacheck and Hector Arana Sr. to advance to the final round.
“After I won in Englishtown we wanted to keep the momentum going,” said Ray, who moved to second in the series standings with the victory. “Then we went to Epping and I got beat on a holeshot. I told myself coming in here that I’d either be red or perfect and I was solid on the tree all weekend.”