Troy Coughlin, Jr., already an accomplished sportsman and professional drag racer with everything from Super Gas to Top Fuel on his driving resume, will carry the Coughlin family torch in the Pro Stock eliminator beginning in 2021, as it was announced today he will become the lead driver for Team JEGS, driving the JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro tuned by Rickie Jones.
The Coughlin family and Team JEGS have been a part of the Pro Stock class nearly since its inception, as family patriarch Jeg Coughlin, Sr. began competing in the class in its sophomore season 49 years ago. Troy Coughlin, Sr. followed in his father’s footsteps, entering the category after a successful sportsman racing career in 1994. Jeg, Jr. followed shortly thereafter and achieved the most success, earning five world titles and 65 national event crowns in a 24-year Pro Stock career.
Now, Troy Jr. will carry on the family tradition set forth by his grandfather, father, and uncle, driving the same RJ Race Cars-built Camaro owned by Mark Stockseth that Jeg Jr. drove to three wins this past season.
“Competing in Pro Stock is who we are,” Troy Jr. said. “My dad, his dad, my uncle Jeg, it’s a pretty incredible legacy to follow and I couldn’t be more humbled and honored to move it forward.
“Drag racing is a unique part of what keeps our family together. It’s what we talk about at the dinner table. It’s what drives our customer base at JEGS. It’s everything for us. I think it’s really important to have a JEGS car in the professional ranks to constantly remind everyone we love it as much as they do. I’m so lucky to have this chance.”
Jeg Jr. retired from full-time competition at the end of 2020, opening the door opened for Troy Jr. to take the reins after a successful, part-time effort with Elite Motorsports. Troy, Jr. reached his first final-round in Pro Stock at the third Indy race this season, setting the stage for his new role as a contender in 2021. The part-time schedule allowed Rickie Jones to rotate from tuning for Jeg, Jr. to Troy, Jr. Like Troy Jr., Rickie Jones was born into the sport, following his father around the country in his racing and chasis business endeavorers. Following in his footsteps, Rickie competed in Pro Stock and Pro Modified, later assuming a more involved role at RJ Race and Quarter-Max and in tuning the Elite Motorsports Cars of Coughlin and Erica Enders.
“The similarities between T.J. and me are really neat,” Rickie said. “We were both pretty much born and raised at the races and both of our dads raced for many years. I know we share a real love for Pro Stock, plus we’re very alike as far as demeanor and personalities go. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun together, hopefully for many, many years.
“Both of us grew up dreaming about having these kind of chances, to try to win and win championships at the top level of the sport. Obviously, (team owner) Richard Freeman gives us everything we need to win so it’s up to us to put it all together. We’re real excited about having T.J. take this next step with us. He’s got all the potential in the world.
“I had an opportunity to work with him in preseason testing when he drove Jeg’s car at Bradenton. He took to it like a duck to water. He’s a natural. He asked a lot of great questions and has been a real student of the class ever since, watching a lot of the in-car camera video of his uncle’s runs. It’s really no surprise he’s done well considering all the cars he’s raced.”
Troy, Jr. began racing Junior Dragsters before stepping up to compete in Super Comp, Super Gas, Top Dragster, several E.T Bracket cars, Pro Mod, Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Fuel and now Pro Stock. He won the Division 3 Super Gas title in 2013, the North Central region championship in Top Alcohol Dragster in 2018, and the East region Top Alcohol Dragster crown in 2019. He has 10 divisional/regional wins and eight more national event trophies.
“I’ve been lucky to race so many different cars through the years but nothing has been as challenging as Pro Stock,” Troy Jr. said. “It’s a constant challenge to try and make a perfect run each time down the track. I try not to set any expectations but I think we all know great things are within our grasp. We should continue to be major players in the class.
“Having Rickie as the crew chief is the best-case scenario for me. In testing he was always real calm on the radio, which I really liked, and during the season he was someone I could talk to about anything in regards to the runs I was making. He knows Pro Stock as both a driver and a crew chief, plus he drove in Pro Mod too, so we’re a lot alike in many ways. We’ve been down the same roads.”