BELLE ROSE, La. (April 21) – After a busy day that included several qualifying runs, class eliminations, and an unscheduled engine change in one of its primary race cars, brothers John and Mike Coughlin are ready for final eliminations at the fourth annual NHRA Cajun SPORTSNationals.

The busy day began with class eliminations in Super Stock where John Coughlin drove his Cobalt to a final round win over three-time NHRA sportsman champion Kevin Helms. Coughlin had the quicker reaction time and then outran his opponent to the finish line with an 8.81-second elapsed time.

“Winning in class eliminations is always fun because it helps set the tone for the rest of the weekend,” said Coughlin. “When you beat someone that has the credentials of Kevin Helms, it does a lot to help your confidence.”

In the Top Dragster class, John is qualified 24th in the 32-car field with a best of 7.22-seconds but the JEGS team, led by chief mechanics Tony Collier and Greg Cody, was forced to change engines late Saturday night after detecting an oil pressure problem. Coughlin is scheduled to race No. 5 qualifier Brandon Chauvin in Sunday’s opening round of eliminations.

“We’re not exactly sure what is wrong with that engine but we’ve got a spare available to I’m sure we’ll be ready for tomorrow,” said John. “Honestly, I feel like I’m driving well so I like our chances in Top Dragster.”

John’s brother Mike improved to a 6.86 in his Cobalt and is the No. 4 qualifier in the Top Sportsman class. Mike is scheduled to race against Vince Hoda in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday.

“That 6.86 is the best I’ve run with this car and it is also very consistent and predictable so I’m pretty happy with the way the weekend is going so far,” said Mike. “I won this race two years ago and I’d really like to duplicate that feat.”

Troy Coughlin attempted to make additional test runs with his turbocharged Pontiac GTO Pro Mod entry on Saturday but those plans hit a snag when he broke a driveshaft, damaging part of the car’s rear suspension. The team is having replacement parts flown in overnight and expects to be back in action on Sunday.

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