Top Sportsman - Final-round Finish In Kentucky Boosts Coughlin's Championship Hopes
BOWLING GREEN, Aug. 30, 2011: Mike Coughlin exited the Division 3 event at Beech Bend Raceway Park with his head held high after driving his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt to runner-up finish in the Top Sportsman class.
Although he lost a close final-round race against his good friend, Ricky Adkins, Coughlin made a big move in the points standings as he continues his pursuit of a third North Central Division championship.
After qualifying No. 4 in the 32-car field, Coughlin used consistent 6.8-second runs to reach his third final round of the year. Coughlin and Adkins then locked horns in a memorable race that was decided by a fraction of a second at the finish line. Coughlin had a competitive .014-second reaction time and ran a 6.826 on his dial-in time of 6.81 seconds, but he was still just two-thousandths of a second -- approximately five inches -- behind Adkins at the finish line.
"I hate to lose any race but that one was so close, it could have gone either way," Coughlin said. "I really can’t complain about anything this weekend. My car was absolutely flawless and I feel like I did a good job driving. I just came up a tiny bit short.
"My father [Jeg Coughlin Sr.] and [crew members] Tony Collier and Greg Cody made a few changes to the car before this race and their hard work really paid off. The car was so easy to drive. I honestly felt like I could have taken my hands off the steering wheel; it was that smooth."
Coughlin, who earlier this year scored wins in Indianapolis and Chicago, has climbed to within one point of current leader and reigning North Central Division champion John Scali Jr. Coughlin figures to have a slight advantage as he can still gain points at three events while Scali has just two races to improve his total.
The next round of the heated battle will take place Sept. 22-25 at the upcoming JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals, to be held at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio, the home track for the JEGS Mail Order team and a longtime favorite of Coughlin. The event will take on an added importance this year as it will also include the completion of last month’s rain-delayed National Trail Raceway Division 3 Lucas Oil Series event.
"I’ve had a lot of success at National Trail Raceway and I’m very comfortable racing there so to say that I’m looking forward to the next race would be an understatement," said Coughlin, who has won the Top Sportsman title in Hebron three of the last five years. "Winning the championship won’t be easy but we still control our own destiny. With two races in the same weekend, I believe we just need to stay consistent and continue doing what we’ve been doing and everything will be just fine."