500-INCH PRO STOCK RACERS READY TO RESUME TITLE CHASE
For six weeks, the 500-inch Pro Stock cars have remained idle.
One of NHRA's new wave superstars is ready to bring back the high winding factory hot rods.
"People are definitely excited to see the class back out there, and we're excited to be back out there," Pro Stock racer Alex Laughlin, second place in the championship points behind Bo Butner, said. "I've never been this high in points, but it's so tight in this class. Bo (Butner) is way out there (as the points leader), but the position we're in now, we're trying to race for a championship, the pressure is on, to say the least. There's no room for mistakes, and we have to be on our game. The Countdown (to the Championship) will be here quicker than you think."
NHRA, for financial reasons and for the health of the class, reduced the Pro Stock schedule from 24 races to 18 for 2019. The majority of racers in the division have been supportive of the NHRA's decision.
Count Jeg Coughlin Jr as one of those in favor of the NHRA's decision.
"Personally, I'm enjoying the reduced commitment of time with the new 18-race schedule for Pro Stock for a variety of reasons, but it will be great to be back with my teammates at Elite Motorsports this weekend," Coughlin said.
While Coughlin has spent his downtime bracket racing, Laughlin has joined Erica Enders in racing Pro Modified, and in Charlotte, raced in the exhibition Mountain Motor Pro Stock division. Switching seats leaves Laughlin needing a little refresher course on the 500-inch Pro Stocker, his primary ride.
"Whether you're running multiple cars or not, it does take a run or so to get it back together," Laughlin said. "I've been out of the seat of the Pro Stock car, so you have to get acclimated. It's going to come down to who's ready. With this team, they have it together, and I'm confident we'll be ready."
During the downtime, Laughlin and Coughlin's teammate Erica Enders established a new Pro Modified speed record at the NHRA Springnationals in Houston, Texas, and reset it a week later in Charlotte.
Coughlin said the downtime enabled him to follow Laughlin and Enders as a fan.
"I have kept up with my teammates racing in Pro Mod, and that's been exciting, and I'm also fired up to hear about the progress the guys have made with the Pro Stock engine program during this little break," Coughlin said. "It's certainly been different to be in the middle of the season and then take six weeks off, but we're all getting used to it together."
Coughlin said it's not only the 500-inch Pro Stock drivers who have had to adjust to the reduced schedule.
"It's been a bit odd, and some of my buddies in the nitro categories have mentioned how strange it is for them to race with no Pro Stock cars around," Coughlin said, "but I've actually had some gaps in my career where I've taken entire seasons off, or the majority of a season off, so I've had a small taste of this before."