With one race remaining in the 2009 season, Coughlin is trailing leader Bob Cireddu in the Spitzer Race Cars Top Dragster standings by 42 points. If he wins the race he wins the title. Anything less will be a disappointment.
“I really have my work cut out for me this weekend but I’m determined to give it my best shot,” Coughlin said. “My brother Jeg tested my car last week in Tucson to make sure we had a good combination for these weather conditions and it ran really well. We made a few changes and all of them seemed to work.
“My goal is to win the race and if I can do that, I’ll be the champion. I’ve got my family here with me this weekend and we’re going to have a lot of fun and hopefully that will help take some of the pressure off.”
Coughlin also is excited about the prospect of racing alongside his nephew, Troy Coughlin Jr., or T.J. as he is known, who is still flying high after winning his first national event at last weekend’s NHRA Las Vegas Nationals. The 19-year-old became the first third-generation Coughlin to claim a national event victory when he drove his JEGS.com dragster to the Super Comp title. On his way to victory, T.J. turned in one of the best performances of the year with several reaction times that were nearly perfect and numerous runs that matched the 9.05 index. Due to the large number of entries, Coughlin also had the challenge of winning eight elimination rounds instead of the usual seven in order to claim his first victory.
“Last week was so much fun. I can’t wait to get back out there and try again,” T.J. said. “Things have been slowly coming together for me this year and last weekend it finally clicked. I’ve got a lot of confidence right now.”
T.J.’s uncle Jeg, the five-time NHRA champion, also made some test runs in T.J.’s dragster, helping to improve the car’s consistency. Although he is not in championship contention, T.J. can post a top-10 finish in the North Central Division if he can advance to the late rounds in Las Vegas.
“I’ve made it to at least the semifinals the last three times I’ve raced,” T.J. said. “Hopefully, I can have another good race before the year is over. No matter what happens, I’m pretty happy. When I was a little kid, I remember my dad and my uncles bringing home those big, gold NHRA Wally trophies and all I wanted was one of my own. Now I’ve got one and it feels great.”