BELLE ROSE, La. (March 18) – Team JEGS racers Mike and Troy Coughlin Jr. did almost everything right as they pursued victories during this weekend’s ninth annual JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals, but sometimes in drag racing even one’s best is not enough.
Despite a strong qualifying effort behind the wheel of his JEGS.com Top Sportsman Cobalt, Mike lost a heartbreaking race in Round one. Troy Jr., who was pulling double-duty in Super Comp and Top Dragster behind the wheel of his matching JEGS.com dragsters, fared only marginally better, losing in the third round of Top Dragster eliminations and the second round in Super Comp. All three losses by the JEGS Mail Order drivers were decided by just a few thousandths of a second.
“My car was unbelievably consistent,” Mike said. “It was one of the faster cars in Top Sportsman and we had no problems making it down the track every time. Some other drivers had problems because the track was hot, but we had no issues whatsoever. I just happened to lose a good race in the first round. I can’t complain at all. I did my job and the car did what it was supposed to do. We just didn’t turn on the win light. Sometimes that happens. You just have to accept it and move on.”
After qualifying No. 5 with a 6.770, Mike took on former Million Dollar Drag Race winner T.J. Tracy in Sunday’s opening round. At the finish line, Mike broke out, running under his 6.79 dial-in by .001 second with a 6.789, allowing Tracy to take the win by just three-thousandths of a second.
“T.J. Tracy is a great racer; in fact I think that’s the third time he’s beaten me at this race so I guess I owe him a couple now,” Mike said. “I guess if I had run a thousandth of a second slower, I would have won but you never know those things when you are in the car. It’s always easier once the race is over and you’ve seen the numbers.
“Anytime you get beat like that it’s hard to feel bad about it. It’s not the same as making a big mistake and beating yourself.
“Either way, we still had a great time down here in Cajun Country and this is still my favorite race of the year.”
Troy Coughlin Jr., who was making just his second start in the Top Dragster class, qualified for the extremely quick field with a 6.61-second run and then made his way through the first two rounds of eliminations before facing off with past world champion and longtime family friend Steve Cohen. In another close race that was decided by a breakout, Cohen turned on the win light.
“My Top Dragster ran great all weekend; it was flawless,” Troy Jr. said. “I just happened to lose a good race against Steve. I’ve been watching him for a long time and I have a lot of respect for him. I got to the finish line first but broke out. I didn’t think that would happen but we just missed the dial-in a bit. It was a tough loss but I learned something from it so there’s a silver lining.”
It was more of the same in Super Comp as Troy Jr. advanced to the second round of eliminations behind the wheel of his American Race Cars dragster, but came up on the losing end of yet another close race by just nine-thousandths of a second.
“I just couldn’t get there,” Troy Jr. said. “I ran 8.914 and that wasn’t enough to get the job done. My car is fantastic but I can’t say the same for my driving. I missed it a little and that’s what hurt our chances.
“Overall, I like racing two cars. It’s a lot of work but it also makes me sleep better at night. I’m worn out right now. Thankfully, I had a lot of good help here. My dad [Troy Sr.], my sister [Meghan], and my cousin [Clay] helped me a lot and so did our crew chiefs — Tony Collier, Rick Rossiter, and Greg Cody. We definitely had a lot of support. We didn’t win but, we did have a good time here and met a lot of really neat people. I’m planning on coming back next year.”
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