NHRA Drag Racing - JEGS.com Team Savors Home Field Advantage In Columbus
HEBRON, July 20, 2011: With literally hundreds of wins at drag strips across the United States, the Coughlin family is a threat to win any race they enter. But nowhere is the JEGS Mail Order team more dominant than at their home track, National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio, the site of this weekend’s North Central Division Lucas Oil Series event.
As the team’s official test track, the Coughlin’s have made literally thousands of runs down the National Trail quarter-mile and they plan to put that experience to good use when qualifying begins on Friday.
The Columbus event is a critical race for Mike Coughlin, who is involved in a heated battle to win what could be his third Top Sportsman series championship in the last five years. Coughlin came on strong early in the season with back-to-back wins in Indianapolis and Chicago, but didn’t fare as well at the most recent stop in Norwalk, Ohio, where he suffered a rare first-round loss. Despite the loss, Mike still enjoys a healthy lead in the standings and can further distance himself from his rivals with a strong outing at National Trail Raceway.
"We're at home this weekend and I can’t think of a better place to race than National Trail," Mike said. "We know this track very well and there is always something about racing here that makes me very comfortable.
"It should be very warm this weekend but that’s typical for this time of year. Luckily, our JEGS.com Cobalt doesn’t mind a hot race track. I don’t know if that will play into our hands or not but I’d like to think it will give us a bit of an edge.
"I try not to count points but it’s hard not to notice when you’re leading the standings. I know that if we have a good race it will really help our cause. I don’t mind the pressure of being in a points race. In fact, I kind of enjoy it."
Mike will have plenty of company as he’ll be joined by his brother John, who will be racing his JEGS.com Top Dragster entry, and his nephew, Troy Jr., who will be racing in the Super Comp class with his JEGS.com dragster. Also in action will be Makenna Brown, who will be a part of Sunday’s Jr. Dragster event. Fresh off a double-win at Pacemakers Dragway Park, Brown is the defending event champion.
For John, this weekend’s event will mark a return to the driver’s seat for the first time in 2011 after spending much of the early season helping to further the career of his son, Cody, who is a rising star in circle track racing.
"Cody is doing extremely well and I’ve enjoyed spending a lot of time with him, as well as my wife Diana and our daughter Kennedi, but I’m also excited to get back in a race car myself," said John, who is a two-time Top Dragster series champion. "My brother Jeg recently tested my car and ran 6.50s so I have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
"Right now, my plan is to run maybe three or four races this year but you never know; if I happened to win this one I might have to expand my schedule a bit and pursue the championship. If that should happen, I believe there’s still time to win it. No matter what, I’m just happy to be back out there racing with the family."
Another driver who hasn’t given up on the points battle is third-generation driver Troy Jr., or T.J. as he's known to his family and friends. T.J. is presently ranked 14th in the Super Comp standings, but has attended just three events. He'll have an extra motivation this weekend as he races to honor the memory of his grandfather, Bob Reeder, who recently passed away at the age of 74 after a long battle with cancer.
"This has been an emotional time for our whole family," T.J. said. "I’d love nothing more than to win this race in honor of 'Paw Paw.' I’ve been bracket racing a lot this summer and I’ve made a lot of runs so I’m hoping that will help me this weekend.
"Racing here at National Trail is also a big help because we have so many supporters in this area. If you look at how many races uncle Mike and uncle John have won at this track it’s amazing. It really does feel like we have a home track advantage."