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NHRA Drag Racing - JEGS Team Drivers Deliver At Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS, April 30: Mike Coughlin took a giant step towards his goal of qualifying for the NHRA North Central Division JEGS Allstars team with a strong semifinal finish at this weekend’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series opener at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

Coughlin drove his Chevy Cobalt to three crucial round wins before dropping a close race against eventual runner-up Brian Stultz. Coughlin had a competitive .022 reaction time and ran right-on his 6.77 dial-in, but Stultz was quicker with a nearly perfect .004 light and won the round by just three-thousandths of a second.

Despite the loss the Stultz, Coughlin earned enough points with his performance to pass Donald Horne for the lead in the standings for the JEGS Allstars event, which will take place on June 30 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.

"I just got whipped by Brian, there’s no other way to put it," Coughlin said. "I lost a good, close race. This class is tough and you’re going to have those races now and then. Losing was tough but I took over the lead for the JEGS Allstars, which is exactly what we wanted to do. That’s been my goal all along. I really want to be part of the Division 3 team this summer."

Coughlin was especially pleased with the performance of his yellow and black Chevy, especially after qualifying in the No. 2 spot with a 6.70 seconds at more than 208 mph.

"We had pretty much the quickest car in the field and it went right down the track every time so obviously the work we did over the winter paid off," Coughlin said. "It was cold and rainy this weekend but we had no problems. The car was flawless, which give me a lot of confidence heading into the summer months."

Coughlin was not the only member of the JEGS team to enjoy a successful weekend as his sister-in-law Samantha Coughlin drove her dragster to a quarterfinal finish in the Super Comp class and third-generation racer Troy Coughlin Jr. posted a Round 4 finish in Super Comp.

Samantha’s day ended in Round 5 when she broke out by .007 seconds against Mike Lund.

"My car was perfect," she said. "Like Mike, I also lost a tough race. When we left the starting line I felt like one of us was on time and I thought it was me, but unfortunately it was him. I just couldn’t get by but I’m still excited at how well we did. In my last three races here in Indianapolis, I’ve got two semifinal finishes and a quarterfinal."

Advancing to the late rounds of the first Lucas Oil Series event of the year has also made Samantha re-think her game plan for the 2012 season. She is now contemplating a full schedule of Lucas Oil Series events.

"I’m very excited about the possibility of doing something in the points this year," she said. "We’ll see how it goes for the next few races but this is a good start. I had a fun week racing with Mike and T.J. [Troy Jr.]. We all won some rounds and it always seemed like there was always a JEGS car in the staging lanes."

Coming off a big win at last weekend’s high stakes E.T. bracket racing event at South Georgia Motorsports Park, Troy Jr. was looking for big things at Lucas Oil Raceway, the site of his first national event victory in 2010. After suffering a tough Round 1 loss in Top Dragster against low qualifier Troy Stone, Troy Jr. returned to win three rounds in Super Comp.

"My Top Dragster ran great but I just couldn’t judge [Stone’s] car at the finish line," Troy said. "He’s just too fast. I couldn’t see him and then before I knew it he was ahead of me.

"In Super Comp, I was rolling along pretty well but I broke a rocker arm in the fourth round. I heard it on the burnout so I knew right away I was in trouble. Our cars are usually very reliable but when you’re dealing with 1,100-horsepower things are bound to happen every now and then. We’ll get it fixed and be ready for the next race."