NORWALK, Ohio (June 22) — Troy Coughlin Jr. has made no secret of the fact he'd love to win this weekend's NHRA national event in Northwest Ohio, which is being contested about an hour from his home near Columbus. So far through qualifying and two rounds of eliminations, everything is setting up nicely for him to achieve his dream win.
Racing in arguably the most stacked Top Alcohol Dragster field of the season, Coughlin began this weekend's lofty quest with a No. 1 qualifying effort of 5.183 at 279.56 mph. He's since marched past Jasmine Salinas and Mike Bucher and into the semifinals, which will be contested at 2:15 p.m., Sunday.
"This McPhillips Racing team is just spectacular," Coughlin said. "The car's been awesome. We're making great runs and great decisions. Everyone's mind is in the right place. We are here to win and we're doing everything we can to make that happen.
"Racing here means everything to me, being a Buckeye and all. My grandfather (Jeg Coughlin Sr., founder of JEGS High Performance) and my dad (three-time world champion Troy Coughlin) will be here to watch us tomorrow and I definitely want to do well for them. Honestly, any national event win is majestic in and of itself, but doing it here in Ohio would be the ultimate."
Coughlin opened eliminations Saturday afternoon with a bye run after Salinas failed to show up for the race. Even though he was unopposed, Coughlin and crew showed the same dominance they displayed in qualifying, running a 5.233 at 278.86 mph, the best of the first session by far.
Quarter-round opponent Bucher offered a better test, but a great reaction time by Coughlin of .046 seconds gave him a .014-second head-start, and his JEGS Garage Gear/McPhillips Racing dragster did the rest, with Coughlin winning with a 5.285 at 279.21 mph to Bucher's 5.366 at 261.62 mph.
"First two rounds went well," Troy Jr. said. "Now we've got Josh Hart, who ran a 5.264 (at 272.94 mph in the quarterfinals), so we'll give up lane choice to him, but we plan to put our best foot forward and give him a race.
"Racing in this region puts you up against some of the best Top Alcohol drivers in the country. These guys and girls are race-ready at all times, but so are we and whenever you have a crew of guys like Rich and Richie (McPhillips), Duke Roney, John Flenard, Andy Goode, Charlie Wroten and Charlie Greco, you have a great chance to win."