With championships at stake, Coughlin heads for Atco event
ATCO, Oct. 2, 2010: T.J. Coughlin is one of a handful of drivers still mathematically in the running for the 2010 Super Comp championship so the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals champion has loaded his JEGS.com dragster and headed to historic Atco Dragway in Atco, N.J. for this weekend’s Northeast Division Lucas Oil Series event. Coughlin can still claim points at two events and if he were to win this weekend’s event, he could move into second place, within striking distance of current leader and fellow young gun Ray Miller III. Coughlin is also a strong contender for the North Central Division Super Comp title. He is currently ranked fourth and needs only to reach the semifinals to pass current leader Steve Mikus.
“As long as they tell me I’ve still got a chance, I think I owe it to myself to go out on the road and give it my best shot,” said the 20-year old third-generation racer. “This division is tough; there are a lot of good racers out here but really, it’s not easy to win anywhere so by now I’m used to it. Realistically, I’ve got a lot better shot at winning the division championship than I do of winning the world championship but it doesn’t matter to me. My goal is just to win the next race. If I can win the race, the points will take care of themselves. That’s where my focus is this weekend.”
Unlike the events in his home division, where he is often accompanied by his uncles, John and Mike, T.J. will be flying solo in Atco but he won’t be totally on his own as he’s got Clint Allerton by his side. Allerton normally works on the JEGS.com Pro Mod Camaro that is driven by Coughlin’s father, Troy Sr., but he’s also very familiar with the inner workings of an 8-second Super Comp dragster.
“Clint knows almost every kind of race car so I know he’s going to be a big help this weekend,” said Coughlin. “I’m confident that we can work together to make all the right calls on our JEGS.com dragster. It’s pretty much just up to me to do my job as a driver.”
In addition to his landmark win at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, where he became the sixth member of the Coughlin family to reach a final at NHRA’s biggest event and the fourth to claim a victory, T.J., has also had a solid year in the North Central Division, reaching the late rounds of the divisional events in Norwalk, Ohio, Stanton, Mich., Indianapolis, Ind., and the team’s home track in Hebron, Ohio. Pending the results of this weekend’s Atco event, T.J. will likely continue his road trip, making a stop at Silver Dollar Dragway in Reynolds, Ga., on Oct. 15-17, to participate in the final 2010 Lucas Oil Series event east of the Mississippi river.
Historically, late season road trips have been productive for the Coughlin family. In 2007, Coughlin’s uncle John won the Super Stock title at the Atco event and last year Uncle Mike used a win at the Silver Dollar event to claim his second Top Sportsman series title in the last three years. John also won the divisional race at the end of the season in Las Vegas last year to claim the Top Dragster title for the North Central Division with his victory. The next Lucas Oil Series victory for a member of the Coughlin family will mark the 50th for the JEGS Mail Order team dating back to family patriarch Jeg Coughlin Sr., who won his first title at Windsor Dragway in 1969, 21 years before T.J. was born.