NHRA Pro Stock champions Jeg Coughlin Jr., Allen Johnson, Greg Anderson and Jason Line have earned a combined 11championship trophies. This year, the top contenders will seek the NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock title, as the sanction’s major sponsor, Coca-Cola, switches branding from Full Throttle to the Mello Yello soft drink that was first marketed in 1979.
Four-time champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. has already mastered the required ability to mention the series brand when being interviewed. Team JEGS was testing recently in Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, Florida, where Coughlin was eager to share his thoughts.
“I think 2013 is going to be a strong year for us,” Coughlin said. “The Mello Yello season is going to get kicked off pretty soon and it’s going to be extremely exciting.”
Later he added: “Pro Stock racing and all of the Mello Yello classes are a multi-million dollar sport.”
Four-time champion Greg Anderson was also testing his Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro in Bradenton as well and commented on Mello Yello:
“It’s a new chapter,” Anderson said. “I’m anxious to hear the slogan they come up with. Obviously, there is nothing mellow about drag racing. Drag racing is a fast-paced full adrenaline sport. The last thing we think about getting into a drag racing car is mellow, I’m kind of anxious to see what kind of catch-line or phrase they come up with. The Coca-Cola company—they’re great with coming up with great slogans and great ways to market their product, so it’s going to be good.”
Anderson’s teammate, two-time champion Jason Line, added his thoughts.
“We’re excited to have any of the Coke products sponsor our series,” Line said. “To be honest I was never a huge Mello Yello drinker, but I’ve been drinking diet Mello Yello lately and I’m enjoying it. I asked myself why I wasn’t drinking it all along. I want to win that first Mello Yello trophy.”
The 2012 Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson also had comments on the sponsor change.
“Mello Yello— that will be just a little different swing on things,” Johnson said. “I think it’s got a good ring to it so we’ll take it and try to build on it.”
One thing all these great champions agree on is that the level of competition in Pro Stock for the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello season will be fierce not mellow.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. is looking for big things from his JEGS.com Mopar Dodge Avenger and knows what challenges the new racing year will bring:
“I’ve been in Pro Stock for about 15 years and every year you’re guilty of saying this is the most competitive field,” Coughlin said. “This really appears to be the most competitive field right now. The technologies that we’re testing to the nth degree, we’re testing the chassis to the same. You know what’s improved a lot too is the driving over the last couple years. You’ve seen average reaction times come down from driver to driver to driver. When you get those averages lowering, the averages ETs leveling out between no.1 and No. 16 or No. 1 to No. 10 Pro Stock puts out some one heck of side-by-side racing.”
JEGS and Summit are competitors in the high performance parts business world and competitors on drag strips as well, but Summit Racing champion Greg Anderson agrees heartily with Jeg Jr. when describing the next Pro Stock season:
“There is no question this year, the first year of Mello Yello at least in the Pro Stock class and I guarantee you it goes through Funny Car and Top Fuel class, it’s going to be the toughest challenge we’ve ever had,” Anderson said. “There are more competitors now that have figured it out. They understand what it takes to win. They understand what it takes to run a championship caliber team. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it absolutely gets tougher every year because of that as more and more these teams figure out what it takes to get to the top. They learn from other teams. They learn from watching what goes on. The battle will be absolutely the toughest it’s ever been. The bar is raised again and it comes down to how high can you raise your own bar and come with a pack and hopefully to get ahead of them. It will be an exciting year. I absolutely couldn’t pick a favorite right now. There’s too many of them that could win this deal from start to finish.”
Teammate Jason Line agreed with Anderson.
"The level of competition will be tougher again, “Line said. “There is no question about it. That doesn’t gripe us though. It doesn’t have to be equal, it’s just tough.”
Jeg’s teammate Allen Johnson agrees with all the other champions.
“Everybody is loaded for bear,” Johnson said. “Everybody is going to come out swinging. It’s going to be a knock down drag out. It’s going to come to who can be consistent and the driver.”
One thing these 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock contenders agree on is that the drag racing during the 2013 season will be far from mellow and intensely competitive.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of motorsports topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained from personal interviews or official release materials provided by sanctions, teams or track representatives.