POMONA, Calif. – Jeg Coughlin Jr. captured his fifth NHRA Pro Stock world championship title Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals.
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Rickie Jones (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were race winners at the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season-finale.
Coughlin, who won four races in eight final rounds during the season at the controls of his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger, took the title at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona when his only remaining challenger, Jason Line, lost in the second round of eliminations.
“In this day and age, it is so tough to win out here,” said Coughlin, who joins Shawn Langdon, John Force and Matt Smith as 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Series world champions.
“We’ve seen a lot of races won and lost by just a few thousandths of a second,” Coughlin continued. “I think this is one of the tightest, and one of the most intense championships I’ve ever won. This ranks right up there with 2007 when we had the two cuts to the Countdown to One in the first year of our playoffs.”
Coughlin, a native of Columbus, Ohio, becomes only the eighth driver in NHRA history to win five pro series championships. He also won a Super Gas title in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series in 1992. This title, his first since 2008, follows a disappointing 2012 season where he failed to win a race and finished ninth in the points standings.
“To bring a second straight championship back to Auburn Hills for our friends at Mopar and another one to Greeneville, Tenn., for the J&J Racing crew, and now a seventh overall world championship to Delaware, Ohio, for everyone at JEGS, it feels fantastic,” Coughlin said. “It ranks right up there at the top.”
Newly-crowned Top Fuel world champ Langdon finished off his year in style by racing to his seventh victory of the season, holding off hard-charging Doug Kalitta at the finish line in the final round. Langdon powered to a 3.784 second run at 323.58 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to finish in front of Kalitta’s Mac Tools dragster, which posted a 3.808 at 322.04. Langdon defeated Steve Torrence, David Grubnic and Clay Millican in the first three rounds.
“This is the top of the cake this weekend,” said Langdon, who secured his first Top Fuel crown following Saturday’s qualifying. “It’s an absolutely special weekend for everybody involved with Al-Anabi Racing. This is what I envisioned as a kid wanting to be a professional drag racer. When you’re living a dream and being part of something special, it almost puts you at a loss for words. I’m very fortunate to be a part of a great team. I still have to keep pinching myself.”
The Southern California native became only the sixth Top Fuel driver to sweep both Pomona races, as he opened the season with a victory at the NHRA Winternationals. Tony Schumacher (2004), Gary Scelzi (2000), Mike Dunn (1999), Darrell Gwynn (1989), and Gary Ormsby (1986) also accomplished the feat.
“There are certain races you go to when you feel like you need to win the race as soon as you pull in the gates, and we definitely have that in Pomona,” Langdon said. “Alan works his magic out here, and you can see by his track record. My crew chief, Brian Husen, gave me a phenomenal car all weekend. The team has been in this position before, but it’s all new to me as a driver. I was a nervous wreck coming in, but I built up some confidence as the weekend went on. My lights started getting better and better, and the car was getting better as well.”