REYNOLDS, Ga. (October 18) – In one of the most dramatic and pressure-packed races of his long career, Team JEGS driver Mike Coughlin officially put the wraps on his second North Central Division Dart Top Sportsman Series championship following a dramatic victory at this weekend’s NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at Silver Dollar Raceway in Reynolds, Ga.
Coughlin entered the event as the point leader, with just one driver, Ricky Adkins of Milan, Mich., was in range to catch him. But Adkins needed to win the event in order to do so. In a strange twist of fate, Coughlin and Adkins both advanced to the final round where Coughlin emerged as the champ after driving his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt to a 6.77 on his 6.75 dial-in for the victory. Adkins had a slightly quicker reaction time, but missed his dial-in time of 6.98 seconds with a 7.02.
“Wow, what a barn burner,” said Coughlin, who has now won the title in two of the last three seasons. “It all came down to one race and we were able to get it done when it really counted.
“This is the most exciting finish I’ve ever been a part of. I was pretty nervous before the semifinal round because I thought that was the round that could decide the championship. Then we went back and did some more calculating and realized I needed to win the final in order to lock up the title. The whole day I just kept telling myself, ‘One more round. One more round.’
“Ricky is an incredibly tough racer and he’s also a good friend. I hung out with him for most of the weekend and who would have thought we were going to race in the final round for the title.”
Coughlin qualified No. 1 in the tough field with a 6.73 elapsed time at 206.95 mph, one of the quickest and fastest runs of his career. On race day, he methodically made his way through the ladder with wins against Chris Gulitti, Kyle Firestone, and Thad Martin.
“I can’t say enough about the job our JEGS team has done this year,” Coughlin said. “Once again my car was just about perfect. It made some of the best runs it has ever made this weekend including that 6.73 in qualifying. There were other cars this weekend faster than mine but they didn’t get down the track as well and that’s how we were able to go to No. 1.”
With the win, Coughlin now has compiled a score of 401 points that includes two wins, two runner-up finishes, and one semifinal result in five events. Had he lost the final, he would have trailed Adkins by eight points and would have had to reach the final round of the last Lucas Oil Series event of the year in Las Vegas in order to re-claim the top spot. The JEGS team, including Mike, his brother John, and nephew Troy, are still planning to make the trip to Las Vegas, but for Mike the Vegas event has become a victory celebration.
“The funny thing is that six days ago, I wasn’t coming to this race,” Mike said. “Then I realized I still had two races where I could claim points and it made sense to go to both of them because you never know what might happen. Now, I’m really glad we did.”