JOLIET, Ill. ? In the first eight races of the season, there were eight different Pro Stock drivers who walked away with the event trophy. Now that is a competitive category. Troy Coughlin drives one of two entries from the Jeg?s Mail Order Chevy Cavalier camp. He is one driver who has yet to win a race this season, but hopes to find winner?s circle very soon and join the party. ?I think that it is great to have such parity in Pro Stock,? Coughlin said. ?The fans know that anyone who qualifies in the quick 16 can be a winner on race day. That is what makes Pro Stock so cutthroat. There is absolutely no room for error. If you make one mistake, you?re done.? The category looks to remain just as tough going into the fifth annual Chicagoland Dodge Dealers NHRA Nationals, May 30-June 2, at Route 66 Raceway. Kenny Bernstein, Del Worsham, Mike Edwards and Antron Brown are the defending winners of the $1.9 million race. It is the 10th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERADE Drag Racing Series. This is the first time in NHRA history that there has not been a repeat winner in the door slammer category for such a long stretch. The previous record for different drivers winning each race was set in 1990 when five drivers (Jerry Eckman, Bob Glidden, Warren Johnson, Kenny Delco and Larry Morgan) started the season with one victory each. Since then, there has been a repeat winner within the first four events of the season. To add confusion to the points race, Jim Yates is in the top three, but has yet to win a race. He is, however, one of the more consistent drivers in the circuit. Yates is one of only five drivers to qualify in each of the first seven events of the season. There has typically been at least 35-40 cars trying to grab one of the 16 spots for the money race on Sundays. Johnson, the 2001 Pro Stock champion, has also qualified for seven races. He is the points leader going into the Englishtown, N.J., event and has one victory to his credit. Defending the title this season may be a little tougher than years past. ?The only time you need the points lead is after the last race of the season,? Johnson said. ?We?re just going to keep working on what we do best and hopefully it will turn out in our favor. I think we have turned the corner a little bit on consistency more than anything else. We are not necessarily the fastest car out there. But round-for-round, we?re hanging right in there and that?s what it takes.? Besides Yates and Johnson, only Ron Krisher is the only other driver to compete in every national event this season. The 2000 Pro Stock champion, Jeg Coughlin, has yet to make an appearance in winner?s circle. In the first race of the season, Coughlin did not even qualify. But by the third race of the season, he was in the finals. He lost to Darrell Alderman at Gainesville to earn a runner-up spot. He posted another runner-up effort recently at Englishtown, N.J., losing to the Pro Stock Winner's Club's newest member, Greg Anderson. ?Pro Stock is door handle to door handle racing each time down the track,? Coughlin said. ?The races are regularly won or lost by thousandths of a second. Having so many race winners in each of the events this season shows just how tight this ultra-competitive category is.? * SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying is scheduled for 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. on May 31 and will continue at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on June 1. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on June 2. * TICKETS: Tickets are available for the fifth annual Chicagoland Dodge Dealers NHRA Nationals. For further ticket information call (815) 727-RACE. Tickets are also available through Ticketmaster and at * TELEVISION: ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on June 1. ESPN2 will televise 150 minutes of eliminations at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on June 2. -30-
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500 Speedway Blvd
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