THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Jeg Coughlin who is now the five-time Pro Stock world champion after he earned his first title since the 2008 season. Jeg also won championships in 2000, 2002, and 2007. This season he raced to four wins and four runner-up finishes during the course of the year. Jeg, you touched upon a little bit on it Sunday night, but how satisfying is this championship after missing that 2011 season and then coming back and last year not having a season probably with what you were accustomed to?
JEG COUGHLIN: It's an extremely special championship for us for many, many reasons. It is our ultimate goal when setting out for a new season is to challenge for those valuable round wins, valuable race wins and that ultimate Mello Yello prize, and that is the world championship. I think it would go without saying that it was such a team effort, such a family effort between Allen and Roy Johnson and everyone at J & J Racing, and everyone at JEGS, JEGS.com in on the race program. Because no one person made this happen. We certainly thank Mopar for their dedication and their passion and their drive to win as they've now won back to back Pro Stock World Championships. That is really cool. That was probably the neatest thrill for me was to see the smile on Allen and Roy's face when one of our teams was able to secure the championship and the same on the likes at Mopar. I think that's, at the end of the day, what made me the happiest about it all.
JEG COUGHLIN: It really was. It was almost as seamless as it sounds. And look, Allen and I had a conversation prior to that at Pomona a year ago, and our goal at the end of the conversation was, is this a fit for us or not? We both had an idea of how this merger could go. We both said how we felt that it should go, and we both agreed with it, I would say nearly a hundred percent, and I think that is exactly why it worked. Allen and his team did a fantastic job orchestrating the transition, getting the cars ready, working with the JEGS personnel to be able to get the car ready, the transporters ready, get all of our back up stuff ready. Of course, Roy and his team at J & J at Greeneville, Tennessee, were hard at work preparing the arsenal of engines that they were going to send to the races. Not only the Mopar Dodge of Allen's, the JEGS.com Dodge of mine, but also the Mountain View Tire Dodge of (Vincent) Nobile. I think when we came out in testing, we were very well prepared with all three cars, from both car standpoint, car management standpoint and engine standpoint. I think that showed really well as we came to the very first race and got a 1-2 finish in the finals. As I echoed, I think the transition was very smooth. I think all parties kept all hands on deck and they were able to communicate and race as a true team. That was something that's hard to find in any form of sport or Motorsports. I think, I know I commend Allen and Roy and our families for being able to merge so seamlessly.
Q. Jeg, congratulations. Winning five NHRA Pro Stock Championships shows you know a lot about winning titles. What recommendations would you share with drivers and teams who had the drive to win a championship?
JEG COUGHLIN: Thank you. Good question, and it feels fantastic. The drive for five came to fruition, and I think what it takes is much of what we just spoke of. If you're in the Pro Stock world, there are only a couple of ways to go about it. You can own the whole team from start to finish, meaning the engine development side of things, which is extremely important in Pro Stock. Horsepower is king. There is no mistaking that horsepower is very, very important. Secondly is having a good car and car management program, which includes suspension management, includes the driveline management. I think when you couple those two things together, then in comes the driver from a driving standpoint. That is all good for one run. Now we've made a run, and we need to make the fine tune adjustments. That's where the crew chiefs continue to do their work. I think the thing I would say the most is depending on however you put your program together or however you put your plan together, it is all about people and communication. We certainly don't want to teach any of these multi-car teams anything because it's already a tough class here in Pro Stock.
JEG COUGHLIN: Absolutely. We won our first Pro Stock Championship in 2000, had just a dominant season. That's when we were in the traditional format of a 23 or 24 race series and the points accumulated from one end to the other. That was unbelievably special being our first professional world championship and to do it in the fashion we did was amazing. When in comes the Countdown to One effort, we really ignited the whole championship season again and created a playoff for it. It's quite simple, and I think the efforts are certainly paying off for the NHRA and many other major sports in this world. So I think getting back to your question, this last championship is probably as hard or harder to win as any of the other ones, probably more from a mental standpoint because in all but one championship we've won before the final race. In 2007 we won the championship coming into the last race just over two rounds behind. Kind of felt like the underdog. We were swinging for the fences and going for that championship. Don't get me wrong. But almost had that couldn't lose attitude and were able to pull through and win that first year of the playoffs with that effort. This season here we had three or four really good teams that mathematically had a shot at winning the Pro Stock title leaving Sunday night at Las Vegas. Weirder things have happened, and we felt confident that we were going to be qualified and winning rounds and winning the race. But for some reason this one was probably a little more difficult mentally, not just on myself, but on the entire team making sure our Is were dotted, our Ts were crossed, and we got out there and performed as flawless as we could. Fortunately, that's the way it went down.
Q. I don't know if you can speak on this, obviously you guys formed that power team with you and Allen and Vincent, and it obviously paid dividends very well for everybody involved. Is that the plan next year to stay with you three? Is that moving forward for 2014? Have you guys made any final plans for that yet?
JEG COUGHLIN: I haven't spoken to Allen on a hundred percent of the plan. I know our plan is to continue to run with Allen through the 2014 season and potentially beyond. But I have not spoken with Mr. (Nick) Mitsos or the Nobiles on what their plans are as well. So I'm not up on all the info, as you would say. But I hope so. I enjoy the Mitsos family and the Nobile family and also obviously the Johnson family, and the Ingersols. They're all in this together. So I feel like we've had quite a 1, 2, 3 punch and between the three of us all together we've had a season that no other team had.
JEG COUGHLIN: It wasn't too big of a transition for me moving into the Mopar brand in 2012. Yes, the engine power band was slightly different but we utilized items like a shift light to help us prepare for that difference a little bit. Probably the biggest change and it may sound odd was the sight line looking out of the car. In the Dodge Avenger you sit extremely low in the car and the dash line was a little bit higher than most and had to kind of tailor my behind the wheel driving just a touch from the sight line. Other than that, it was seamless. I'd say the biggest opportunity was being able to work with the engineers at SRT Engineering on the aerodynamics of the car, on the chassis side of the car, and on the engine side. So that was quite a bonus as we formed our alliances with Mopar moving into the '12 and '13 seasons, and we've got some great stuff as a team coming down the pike early in 2014.
Q. In other words, it was really an easy decision after '12 to go with Allen, right?
JEG COUGHLIN: Yeah, I think so. We started our own engine program and started it with some extremely talented people. But for whatever the reason, the chemistry just didn't make its way to the racetrack on our program. At the same time we did build some GM engines and they're running very well out there. In fact, one of them just for the most part won the finals. So it was a different game for us, and we weren't able to transition at all in that package. I think when we made the transition with Allen and the J & J Racing program which included world champion Jim Yates and world champion crew chief Mark Ingersol, Allen himself and his family. It was a lot of little fine tuning things that brought our program to life. It felt great, I can tell you, from behind the wheel.
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