Survivor-North CarolinaMopar drag racers earned two significant wins during late '04 season action on the IHRA Hooters Drag Racing trail. Sportsman drivers, Joe Baker and Eddie Bolton, earned top honors in their classes during the prestigious ACCEL Survivor Series Shootout held in conjunction with the season-ending IHRA World Finals at Rockingham Dragway.

Baker, from Milton, Florida, scored what was arguably the biggest win of his career when he took the ACCEL Top Sportsman Shootout, driving his Dodge Neon that was formally campaigned in Pro Stock by Rick Jones. The car featured an all-new 596ci engine by Muscle Motors, and the event was only Baker's second time out with that new motor configuration. Baker secured his title when his final round 6.953 (6.92 dial in) prevailed over Jerry Young, who broke out.

Bolton's victory came in the ACCEL Stock eliminator category, driving a 360 CID H/CM '73 Dodge Dart that is normally run by his wife Lisa. Bolton, a former IHRA World Champion in the Hot Rod (10.90) class, ran right on his 11.39 dial in the championship final round to trailer his opponent Nick Folk

Major Mopar ManeuverIn a rather monstrous development within NHRA's Pro Stock circles, three-time former World Champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. has aligned himself with Schumacher Racing and Mopar for 2005. Jeg Jr. drove his Cavalier to NHRA's Pro Stock World Championship titles in both 2000 and 2002. This after winning the overall Sportsman title in Super Gas in 1992. He will field an all-new '05 Dodge Stratus next season. That effort will include a Mopar-factory-backed Hemi engine program that will be overseen by legendary class icon Bob Glidden. The switch of brands to Dodge for Coughlin had been rumored for quite some time and was fuelled by Jeg's big win at the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indy last September. At that event, Jeg prevailed in the Mopar-sponsored Super Stock Hemi Challenge, driving the SS/AA car owned by Californians, Harry Holton and Michael Ogburn. Coughlin credited the switch to his desire to make another run at being No. 1 in the world. By aligning his race team with Don Schumacher Racing, Coughlin will benefit from Schumacher's alliance with DaimlerChrysler, Dodge, and Mopar Parts and their research and development departments.

"We couldn't be more excited," Coughlin said. "We've all seen the success Don has experienced in the other three professional categories, and he's eager to make a mark in Pro Stock as well. He's assembled an awesome team, and I fully expect us to contend for the championship from the start of the season."

The partnership between Ohio-based Jeg's Mail Order and Don Schumacher Racing will also include associate-level signage on all of the team's vehicles, including the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster of new champion Tony Schumacher, the HEMI-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car of Gary Scelzi, and the Matco Tools Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car of Whit Bazemore.

"The Hemi engine is synonymous with high performance," Coughlin said. "We've all seen the success the Mopar drivers have had since the Hemi was reintroduced a few years ago, as well as the very competitive design of the Dodge Stratus R/T."

Coughlin began his new chapter in drag racing with a mid-December test session in Florida after an official unveiling during the P.R.I. show at Indianapolis. His new Dodge will make its official competition debut during NHRA's '05 season-opening event at Pomona, California, in February.

EventsFebruary 26-Columbus, OH: Winter Chrysler Classic at the Ohio Expo Center, Buckeye Building. The Buckeye Building is a well-lit, heated facility, and features polished concrete floors, food concessions, and large restrooms. Info: (614) 268-1181; www.classicevents.com.