NORWALK, Ohio – Team Jegs driver Mike Coughlin will continue his pursuit of the Top Sportsman championship this weekend as the NHRA Division 3 Lucas Oil Series heads for historic Norwalk Raceway Park in Norwalk, Ohio. Following a successful late round finish last weekend at South Georgia Motorsports Park, Coughlin is currently ranked third in the North Central Division standings, just 36 points behind leader T.J. Tracy.

“We’ve had a couple of good races to start the season but this would be a good time to put our JEGS Mail Order Cobalt into a final round,” said Coughlin. “We made a lot changes to this car over the winter, including a new engine, and it has really responded well. I also feel pretty confident about my driving. Now, we just need to put everything together and have a little good fortune and we’ll start winning some races.”

With elapsed times in the high six-second range and speeds of over 200-mph, Coughlin’s Chevy Cobalt is one of the quickest and fastest cars in Top Sportsman. Although the class uses a bracket racing format with handicap starts and a breakout rule, Coughlin believes that he’s got a significant advantage against a slower opponent.

“For one thing, having a fast car gives us a chance to qualify in the top half of the field, which means lane choice in the first round of eliminations,” said Coughlin. “Secondly, it’s always easier to chase an opponent down from behind as opposed to looking over your shoulder. There was a time when I believed that a six-second car might have been too fast for this class, but [chassis builder] Jerry Bickel has given us a consistent race car that seems to run the number regardless of track conditions.”

The Norwalk event will mark the first race in the North Central Division this season as the traditional season opener at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis was postponed by rain and has been re-scheduled for July 20-22. Coughlin got a head start on his in-division rivals by racing at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Valdosta, Ga., and the recent NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals in Belle Rose, La.

“We’ve also been able to do some testing so I’ve already gotten a lot of seat time this year,” said Coughlin. “That might work to our advantage since some of the other racers in this division are just starting their season due to the rain in Indianapolis. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a very difficult battle for the championship. I can pretty much guarantee that it will be a long tough season but I’m looking forward to it.”

Coughlin was originally scheduled to be joined in Norwalk by his older brother John, but he has decided to spend the weekend at home caring for his son, Cody, who suffered a badly broken leg in an ATV accident last weekend.

Top Sportsman qualifying in Norwalk is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 18 and continue on Saturday, May 19 with runs at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 20.

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