WEST POINT, Ky. (Oct. 4) – Following a runner-up finish at this weekend’s 35th annual Doorslammer Nationals at Ohio Valley Raceway, Mike Coughlin has moved one step closer to his second Dart Top Sportsman Series title in the last three years. Coughlin entered the event as the points leader and added to his total by reaching the final, where he lost a close race against Middletown, Ohio’s Belva Brinegar. Despite the loss, Coughlin believes the title is well within his grasp.
“I would have loved to have won this race but when we came down here this weekend, our goal as to collect some more points and we certainly did that,” said Coughlin. “I don’t know weather it is enough, but we have put up a pretty big score so if anyone is going to pass me, they’ve got their work cut out for them.”
Racing on an eighth-mile course for the first time this season, Coughlin qualified third with a 4.36-second elapsed time at 161.73 mph. He scored a key win in the semifinals against Reed Hughes, who is ranked second in the standings. In the final against Brinegar, Coughlin gave up a slight lead on the starting line and then could not make up the difference when his JEGS Cobalt spun the tires.
“The track was getting a little cold and I could feel the car spin the tires,” said Coughlin. Prior to that, everything had been just about perfect. This is the first time that I have raced on an eighth-mile in years and I had almost forgotten how tough it is. The race is over in half the time so you’ve really got to be on your toes. You have to make your decisions very quickly. Still, this was a fun time and the Huff family, who run this track, are also old Pro Stock racers and they treated us very well. I’d definitely come back here again.”
The runner-up finish at Ohio Valley is part of a late-season title surge that also includes a victory at last weekend’s JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals, allowing Coughlin to move from sixth to first place in the highly competitive Top Sportsman class. Coughlin’s final score for the year is 369 points, which includes a win, two runner-up finishes and two semifinals in five events. Unofficially, the only driver who can still catch Coughlin is Ricky Adkins, of Milan, Mich.
“It has been an incredible couple of weeks,” said Mike. “The win in Columbus was awesome and then to come here and go to the final again makes it even better. I still have one more race where I can earn points so my brother, John, and I are going to Las Vegas next month. Hopefully by then, I will have the championship locked up but if I need to win some rounds out there in order to win it, then that is our goal. Now matter what happens, I’ve had a great year.”
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