ATLANTA (April 26) — Reigning Division 3 champion Mike Coughlin made it into the elite eight of the Invitational DART Top Sportsman Dash presented by Country Motors Trailer Sales at Atlanta Dragway before losing a razor-close decision to Michael Kaufman by three-ten-thousandths of a second, or one inch.

One of a handful of invitees from across the country, Coughlin and his Chevy Cobalt team represented the “Land of the Winners” well by reaching the third of five elimination rounds. Before his tilt against Kaufman, Coughlin beat Billy Vaughn by two feet and Ronnie Proctor on a red-light disqualification.

“What a great weekend,” Coughlin said. “This is the first national event I’ve been to in two years and I’ve really enjoyed myself. It was a lot of fun to see my brother Jeg run his Pro Stock car, Troy running his Pro Mod car, and to smell a little nitro.

“It was also pretty special to have Dad here. He helped us a bunch setting this car up for a really hot racetrack and it certainly paid off for us. We could have easily won Round 3 but bracket racing is tough. It’s a game of inches many times.”

Coughlin’s car was a little off in Round 1 so he was pleased to get the free pass from Proctor.

“We kind of got kind of lucky in that first round because Ronnie went red,” he said. “We ran two-hundredths slower than what we thought we were gonna run so it was a good time for a freebie.

“We made the necessary adjustments after that and had a nice win against Billy, my friend from Tennessee. Billy and I had the exact same reaction times but I got by him at the other end and won by seven thou. That was exciting.

“The race against Michael was just a great, tight race. I just made it too close. I caught him at 1,100 feet, eased back and gave him just a smidge too much at the line. In bracket race you can’t breakout so you have to cut it close some times and this time we missed it by an inch. That finish line comes up quick and you gotta work fast.”

Coughlin next races May 16-18 at a Division 3 in Norwalk, Ohio.

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