“It’s hard to be upset after a year like this,” Coughlin said. “Of course we wanted to win the title again and we had the car to do it, but even though we didn’t realize that goal this time through we still had a heckuva year. I think we can all leave town with our heads held high. I know I’m very proud of this race team and this organization.”
After a brilliant regular season, Coughlin fell off the pace in the six-race Countdown to 1 playoff, recording four first-round exits after not posting any in the first 18 races. The late stumble allowed his closest pursuers in the points to pass him with veteran Mike Edwards, against whom Coughlin has a 6-3 record this year, to win the ’09 crown.
“The Countdown system stacks the importance to the final six race,” Coughlin said. “The first two years of the Countdown’s existence, we were the team that managed to find another gear in the playoffs and we came away with a pair of championships. This year it kind of went the other way; we were flying high in the regular season and stumbled ever so slightly down the stretch. That was the difference.
“I congratulate Mike and his team. They were spectacular and it’s neat to see a guy that’s put his heart and soul into this sport for so long finally realize his dream.”
In Sunday’s action at the 45th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, it took the quickest and fastest run of the meet to end Coughlin’s season with rival Jason Line powering through a 6.562-second pass at 210.77 mph that allowed him to overcome Coughlin’s colossal .013 to .052-second reaction time advantage. Fighting an ill-handling car, Coughlin posted a 6.687 at 208.97 mph.
Coughlin’s seven national event wins this season puts his career total at 61, the ninth-highest total in the 58-year history of NHRA drag racing.
“I’m still a fairly young guy at 39 and I’d like to think I can race for a long time,” Coughlin said. “I do enjoy this sport so much and obviously our family business, JEGS Mail Order, has a big stake in NHRA drag racing and all the other motorsports as well.
“All three of my brothers won championships this year so it’s been a hugely successful season for our family and company. I’m confident we’ll be back stronger than ever in 2010, running down more race wins and hopefully another Pro Stock title.”