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NHRA Pro Mod - Coughlin's New Car Debut Show Promise For The Future

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INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 6, 2011: Troy Coughlin made a successful debut of his Pro Mod Chevrolet Camaro, racing his way into the Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series field at the 57th Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

Coughlin unveiled his Jerry Bickel-built '68 Camaro with a 520-cublc inch turbocharged Chevrolet big block engine this weekend. Pro Mod cars can be a handful at any age, but new cars are unusually recalcitrant.

A past NMCA Pro Street champion, Coughlin qualified for the race in the final qualifying session at No. 10 with a pass of 6.025 seconds at 245.67 mph. He then faced Pro Mod points leader Khalid Balooshi in the first round of eliminations, and Balooshi proceeded to make one of the best passes of the weekend to get the win light.

Still, Coughlin is encouraged with the potential of the new Camaro.

"We came here with pretty good hopes of getting in," Coughlin said. "That was a goal, and we did. We hoped to get to the semifinals, but we had an issue in the first round. The car works well. All the components work well. There's just another learning curve in this thing somewhere that we haven't found yet.

"This is the most finicky car we've ever raced. It's really finicky to change."

Coughlin and the team – crew chief Jake Hairston, Bryan Metzenheim, Nick Gaylord and Mike Rees – worked hard with the new car, trying to get its myriad systems tuned to the changing weather conditions. Temperatures approached 100 degrees the first two days of qualifying, and then dipped 20 degrees for Sunday's final two sessions.

"We felt as if we had the power to get in," Coughlin said. "Then it ran better than we thought. There was a lot of sweating and praying going on. I let the clutch out and the car took off. The car felt pretty good in low and second gear, and it thought, 'This thing's running pretty good.' Then they told me the ET and I said, 'Thank God. Hopefully, that stays in.'"

Coughlin was then ready for his first-round matchup Sunday against Balooshi.

"It gave us a lot of confidence going into the first round that some of the decisions we made were pretty good," Coughlin said. "We followed that same path to try to step it up a little more going into first round. We had a hiccup somewhere. The motor wasn't ready to accelerate or something. We've got to figure it out."