BELLE ROSE, La. (April 6) – Reigning NHRA North Central Division Top Sportsman champ Mike Coughlin began his 2008 season with a disappointing round one loss at the fifth annual JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals at No Problem Raceway Park in Belle Rose, La. Coughlin qualified his Team JEGS Chevy Cobalt solidly in the field with a career-best 6.76 that was good for the No. 5 starting spot but lost in the opening round to Rip Dennis of Florence, Miss., who used a nearly-perfect reaction time on the starting line to gain an advantage that was too great for Coughlin to make up.

“All weekend, I was very happy with the way the car ran but when it came to race day, we just weren’t able to get it done,” said Coughlin. “In qualifying, the car was perfect. We made the two quickest runs I’ve ever made down a dragstrip and the car was very smooth and easy to drive. Today, he [Dennis] just did a better job than I did. Sure, it’s disappointing, but it’s also the first race of a long season. Now we’ll just head home, regroup and get ready for the next event.”

Coughlin will have the opportunity to quickly rebound as his next appearance will be at the North Central Division Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series opener at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis next weekend, April 11-13. Coughlin has had a lot of success at O’Reilly Raceway Park, winning the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in 1999 and 2001. Coughlin’s résumé also includes a runner-up finish at the 1997 Lucas Oil Series event at Indy.

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