ATLANTA (May 15) — Troy Coughlin certainly wasn’t expecting the reception he got from the fans at Atlanta Dragway Sunday afternoon as his turbocharged small block Pontiac GTO was being towed back to the pits.

“Coming back down the return road as we headed back to the trailer we actually got a standing ovation,” Coughlin said. “Lots of people were yelling out, ‘Small blocks rule!’ I thought that was kind of wild. This car has so much potential, and obviously some fan appeal as well.”

Coughlin rode crew chief Jake Hairston’s reliable tune-up to his first semifinal finish of the season in the Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. After beating first-round opponent Donald Martin with a season-best 5.965 at 248.11 mph on Saturday night, Coughlin managed to steal a holeshot victory away from Melanie Troxel in Sunday’s quarterfinals before a leak under his racecar during his semifinal round, prerace burnout cost him a chance to run for a spot in the finals.

“It’s just a shame,” Coughlin said of the leak. “We had a fast racecar all weekend and we were inching up on it. We had a great run in the first round last night, and a pretty decent effort in round two. We tried to get it tuned up for a little bit better run in the semis and had a little problem. It’s a bummer to end that way, but what a weekend.”

Running against a pack of competitive cars with much larger engines, Coughlin earned the No. 7 qualifying spot with a best of 6.008 seconds at 249.16 mph. He then had his biggest run of the year against Martin, before taking a giant lead on Troxel in the second round when he left the starting line with a .017-second reaction time against Troxel’s .070-second start. The jump was more than enough to hold off Troxel’s quicker but losing 5.963 at 245.94 mph with his 6.008 at 248.61 mph.

“We had a decent second round run,” Coughlin said. “We found a few things that we modified for the next round and we liked our chances. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Adding a little extra pain to his semifinal loss was the fact opponent Mike Castellana posted a very beatable 6.239 at 187.29 mph.

“Bottom line is we had a good, competitive car all weekend and the guys worked hard at it,” Coughlin said. “We just had a failure. We’ll fix that issue.

“We’re going to go back to the shop and service both engines. It takes a great group of guys like mine to have a successful racecar. We’ve made improvements in leaps and bounds this year and I’m pretty excited about it and pretty proud of them.”

The next race in the Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series takes place June 3-5, in Englishtown, N.J. 


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