DELAWARE, Ohio (Sept. 4) — Two-time Division 3 champion Mike Coughlin is heading north in search of more glory at the Bader family's beautiful quarter-mile drag strip in Norwalk, Ohio. Coughlin will be racing Thursday and Friday in his JEGS.com Top Dragster, making up for the washed-out action from the Norwalk national event in May.
Mike's nephew Troy Coughlin Jr. also will be in action this weekend, running his JEGS.com McPhillips Racing Top Alcohol Dragster at the Night of Fire Division 1 race in Epping, N.H.
"The Baders and officials from the NHRA decided to cancel most of the Sportsman racing at the national event because there had been torrential rain for days leading into race week," Mike said. "During national events, Sportsman racers park on the other side of the track in the grass and it was just completely swamped out at that time. I think they made the right call.
"So, we're heading up from Delaware (Ohio) right now, enjoying an absolutely beautiful day in Ohio, anxious to run this race. It's a great time to get focused on what we need to do this weekend."
The lengthy delay could actually favor Mike more than many of his opponents as his team completely reworked their hot rod after the original race date, adding a Fowler F12 roots-style supercharger to their combination. The change paid immediate dividends with Mike winning the next two D3 races in Indy and Chicago. He's also done well enough at other events this summer to assume first place in the North Central standings and sixth place in the national rankings.
"We haven't changed anything on the car," Mike said. "I know I say the same thing week after week but there is no reason to change what's working. The races we haven't won were just good close losses here and there. Greg Cody, Tony Collier, Dave Raurk and Ryan Micke have been giving me a great car every single round.
"I have two more national events to claim, this one and Charlotte 2, so it would be a great time to win again. We'll concentrate a lot of effort on the two qualifying sessions we have, maybe get lucky enough to earn a bye round or two, and just race as best we can."
Mike won the Norwalk national event in Top Sportsman in 2014.
Coming off his eighth final-round appearance of the year and just two weeks removed from his third victory this season, Troy Jr. arrives at New England Dragway ranked No. 1 in the East Region and third in the national standings. He knows a win at the Night of Fire could be pivotal in his quest for another championship. He was the North Central Region titlist in 2018.
"The McPhillips Racing crew has been as close to perfect as a team can be these last two months," Troy Jr. said. "It's all about hard work and determination and if not for Rich and Richie (McPhillips), Duke Roney, John Flenard, Andy Goode, Charlie Wroten and Charlie Greco, I'd be telling a different story.
"If I want to maintain our points lead in the Eastern Region and keep the pressure on nationally, then having a big weekend in Epping is very important. What's always worked for me the best is when I stay within myself and just look at the next run as the most important one of the year. If I do my job in the car, we have a great chance of winning every round. It's that simple.
"I also have to remember how lucky I am to be in this position and that having fun is what it's all about. The pressure you feel at this time of the year is something I crave. I think I should have done better in the final round at Indy so I'm extra motivated to pay my guys back this weekend."