BELLE ROSE, La. (March 17) – For Mike Coughlin and his nephew, T.J., the 2010 season will begin at one of their favorite events, the sixth annual JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals which will be held this weekend at No Problem Raceway Park in Belle Rose, La. Both of the Team JEGS drivers are hoping that the new season ends the same way that 2009 ended; with a victory.
Last October, Mike Coughlin capped off a memorable season by driving his JEGS.com Cobalt to a win in the Top Sportsman class at the Division 2 event in Reynolds, Ga. That victory allowed Mike to claim his second Dart Top Sportsman series title in the last three years. A couple weeks later, T.J. put the wraps on an equally successful season when he secured his first NHRA national event victory by winning the Super Comp title NHRA Las Vegas Nationals. Both Coughlin’s are hoping to pick up where they left off.
“That would be a great way to start the season,” said Mike, who will once again be racing his 200-mph Chevy Cobalt. “We tested last week and the car ran very well. The car ran so well last year that we didn’t see the need to make many changes although [engine builder] Sonny Leonard worked on our engine and found about 60 horsepower which means that we should be running in the 6.60 range this year. This class keeps getting quicker and quicker and we want to be able to make sure that we can keep up.”
For Coughlin, the Belle Rose event is easily the highlight of any season and he admits that he would feel that way even if he was not a former winner of the event.
“When we go to Louisiana, they make us feel right at home,” Mike said. “Everything about this race is fun from the racing to the fun and games in the pits and the food they serve. It’s first class all the way.”
Likewise, T.J. is excited to begin the 2010 campaign, which will make his second full season in the ultra tough Super Comp class. Other than the recent test session in South Florida, he has not driven his JEGS.com dragster since his groundbreaking victory in Las Vegas last November.
“I’m excited just to get back out there,” said T.J. “I’m racing the same car that I raced last year although we did take the time to freshen everything this winter. I’ve also got Kenny Underwood helping me this year. He’s been doing this a long time and he’s already been a big help. If I have a question, he almost always knows the answer. It’s the same way with my dad, Troy, and uncles, John, Mike and Jeg. They have been so helpful to me. I won a national event last year but I still feel like the new guy.
“I have been to Belle Rose before as a spectator but I’m really looking forward to racing there for the first time,” he said. “I’ve heard that when you get beat, you can bring your losing time slip to the nightclub in the bottom floor of the timing tower for a free drink. Hopefully I won’t get one of those. I’m not old enough to drink and I don’t plan on getting beat anyway.”
Mike and T.J. will be joined in Belle Rose by Mike’s wife, Kriss, and their two sons, Jack and Clay as well as T.J’s sister, Meghan. Jack Coughlin plans to join his father on the track at No Problem Raceway behind the wheel of his bright yellow JEGS.com Jr. Dragster.
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