DELAWARE, Ohio (April 10) – After winning the Top Sportsman title at the JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals last season, Mike Coughlin probably didn’t need to make wholesale changes to his Chevy Cobalt, this winter, but he just couldn’t help himself. Armed with a new engine that he hopes will put the car deep into the six-second range, Coughlin is hoping to be among the top qualifiers in the 32-car Dart Top Sportsman class as he heads to O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis for this week’s NHRA Division 3 Lucas Oil Series opener.

“Last year was my first year in Top Sportsman and we had a lot of fun and we also learned a lot,” said Coughlin. “My car was certainly competitive, but we really thought that we could become even more competitive by making the car quicker so that’s why we decided on a new engine program. In this class, you just can’t sit still. You have to keep moving forward so hopefully this move will help move us to the head of the class.”

The new engine is a 790-cubic inch “mountain motor” from Sonny Leonard and it is equipped with a Big Stuff III fuel injection system from John Meany. The combination is similar to the one Coughlin’s older brother, Troy ran in his Pro Street Cavalier last season. That car posted consistent 6.5-second runs at over 210-mph.

“I’ve never been that fast before so I’m really excited about the start of the new season,” Coughlin continued. “I’m not racing in Super Comp at all this year because I want to concentrate solely on Top Sportsman. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off in 2006.”

The Dart Top Sportsman Series will consist of nine events in the North Central Division. In addition to the opener at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, the series will make stops in Stanton, Mich.; Joliet, Ill; Madison, Ill; Bowling Green, Ky.; Columbus, Ohio, and Louisville, Ky.

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