NHRA Top Sportsman - Championship On Line For Mike Coughlin At Ohio Valley
WEST POINT, Sept. 29, 2011: Mike Coughlin’s mission for this weekend’s Doorslammer Nationals at Ohio Valley Raceway is simple; win two elimination rounds and he’s once again the Top Sportsman champion in Division 3.
Coughlin, the driver of the JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt, has been in contention for his third North Central Division Top Sportsman championship since winning back-to-back races in Indianapolis and Joliet earlier this year and he now finds himself in position to claim a third title this weekend.
Trailing reigning series champion John Scali by 22 points, Coughlin must reach the quarterfinal round in order to force a tie. Under the current NHRA tie-breaker rules, Coughlin would win the title base on his round-win record within the North Central Division. Should he should advance past the quarterfinal round, he would claim the title outright.
"I’ve been in this position before and it’s all very doable," Coughlin said. "In 2009, I had to win the last race of the year in order to win the championship and I ended up racing Ricky Adkins, the guy we were battling for the championship, in the final round of the Division 2 race at Silver Dollar Dragway. We won that time and I know we can win it again. I don’t mind pressure and I think it’s even more meaningful when you have to fight to the very end to win a championship."
Coughlin had a chance to clinch the title last weekend at his home track of National Trail Raceway during the JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals and the re-run of the track’s rain-delayed Lucas Oil Series event but, he suffered rare early-round losses in both races. Thankfully, he can still claim points at one additional event and that will take place this weekend at the only eighth-mile race in the series.
"We simply had an off weekend in Columbus," Coughlin said. "There’s no other way to put it. We could have made some progress but it didn’t work out for us so now we’ve got to make something happen at Ohio Valley. I do enjoy racing at this track and I enjoy the Doorslammer Nationals. It’s a good event and they have a good crowd and it’s an exciting atmosphere. It would be the perfect place to win another championship."
Despite his struggles in Columbus, Coughlin believes that his Chevy Cobalt, which is capable of mid four-second runs on the Ohio Valley Raceway eighth-mile course, is as good as it’s ever been.
"The car is perfect," Coughlin said. "We don’t need to touch a thing. I actually enjoy eight-mile racing and my dad [Jeg Sr.], and Greg Cody, Tony Collier and the rest of Team JEGS have worked hard to make this car as fast and as consistent as it can be. When it comes to my car and our team, I have all the confidence in the world. Now, we just need to go down there and make it happen. Like my brother John says, 'You can't win if you don't go,' and we're going."