NHRA Super Comp - T.J. Coughlin Racks Up Two Runner-up Finishes In One Weekend
COLUMBUS, Sept. 26, 2011: With a broad smile on his face, third-generation racer Troy Coughlin Jr. drove to a pair of runner-up finishes during this weekend’s seventh annual JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals at National Trail Raceway.
Coughlin’s whirlwind weekend began on Thursday when he drove his JEGS.com Super Comp dragster to a runner-up finish in the postponed North Central Division Lucas Oil Series event from July.
With his confidence soaring, Coughlin repeated the feat Sunday when he claimed a second runner-up finish in the Super Comp class in the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals race.
The former U.S. Nationals champion also made his debut in the Top Dragster class behind the wheel of his uncle John Coughlin’s 200-mph JEGS.com dragster and drove to a very respectable round 3 finish. All told, Coughlin won 14 elimination rounds during the four-day event.
"I think I discovered a whole new emotion of drag racing this weekend," Coughlin said. "This is the first time in my career I’ve been to a final round and got beat and it happened to me twice. Of course, I wanted to win both finals but I can live with being second.
"I still think this was the most fun that I’ve ever had at a race track. It was so cool to drive two cars, especially that Top Dragster. That thing is really fast."
On Thursday, Coughlin won six rounds of eliminations before losing a close final-round battle against Michael Shelton. Coughlin gained a slight advantage at the start and ran an 8.94 on the 8.90 Super Comp index while Shelton was slightly better with a winning 8.91 elapsed time.
"That was a good way to start the weekend," Coughlin said. "I haven’t raced in Super Comp too much this year but I felt really good about that race. Even though I got beat in the final, winning all those rounds really gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the race."
During Sunday’s final eliminations for the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals, Coughlin drove to six more round wins in Super Comp to reach another final. Paired with Phil Smida II, Coughlin got a late start and was not able to make up the difference. He was forced to settle for his second runner-up after running an 8.94 to Smida’s 8.97.
"I don’t have an excuse; I just missed the Tree," Coughlin said. "I had a .086 [reaction time] which is the worst of my career. We might have had a problem with the transmission or something else but no matter what, I feel really bad for my crew. My uncle Jeg helped me out and so did my father [Troy Sr.] and Rick Rossiter. It would have been nice to win for them but it wasn’t meant to be."
In the Top Dragster class, Coughlin qualified No. 18 in the 32-car field with a 6.66 E.T. at 206.76 mph, the quickest and fastest run of his career. In eliminations, he reached the quarterfinal round before falling against veteran Division 3 racer Ricky Adkins, who went on to win the event.
"Top Dragster is an amazing class," Coughlin said. "John’s dragster is a little longer than my Super Comp car and it’s very smooth and easy to drive. You don’t even realize your going 200-mph until you pull the parachute and feel the tug on your seatbelts. I definitely think I’m going to be racing in a lot more Top Dragster races next year.
"Overall, this was a great weekend because my mom and dad [Troy and Julie] and my sisters, Meghan, Paige and Kelly were all there to support me. We also had a lot of our associates at JEGS and it’s always great to have their support."