COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sept. 27) – Mike Coughlin took a giant step towards what he hopes will be his second North Central Division Top Sportsman title in the last three years with an impressive victory at the fifth annual JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals. With the final rounds postponed until Monday due to rain, Coughlin drove his JEGS.com Cobalt to a final round victory over former Division 3 champion Mitch Smith, who broke on the starting line. The win continues an unprecedented run of success for Coughlin at the JEGS SPORTSnationals races, which highlight competitors in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. Mike has now appeared in the final round at the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals four times, taking three victories since the inaugural event in 2005. His impressive résumé also has a win and a runner-up at the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals in Belle Rose, La.
Mike entered the event ranked sixth in the very competitive Top Sportsman class but has taken over the lead following his latest victory. Unofficially, Mike now holds a 21-point lead over second-place Reed Hughes, and can still better his score at two upcoming events.
“This is a pretty cool deal,” said Mike. “The final was not at all what I expected but we will take it. We needed all the points we could get in order to stay in the hunt for the championship and we got every one that was available. Other than the rain, the weekend just couldn’t have gone any better.
“I don’t know what it is about these [SPORTSnationals] events but I seem to do pretty well at them,” Mike continued. “Obviously, I also enjoy racing here at Columbus. This is our home track and there is a comfort level here. It is just like racing in my own living room.”
Coughlin’s driving was impressive as he produced five very competitive reaction times behind the wheel of his 200-mph Cobalt. After qualifying with a 6.88 elapsed time, he also made four consistent runs in the 6.8s during eliminations before taking it easy in the final after Smith’s car never moved from the starting line.
“When I left the starting line, I kind of glanced over and saw that Mitch’s car never moved,” said Mike. “After that, I was able to take it easy for the rest of the run. It was a tough weekend for everybody with all the rain we had. We raced late into the night on Sunday before they finally called it for the evening and I’m glad they did because I tend to drive a little better during the daytime.”
Coughlin’s brother, John, lost in the opening round of the Top Dragster class and posted a round two finish in his Super Stock Cobalt. T.J. Coughlin also posted a round one finish in his Super Comp dragster while fellow third-generation Coughlin racers Cody, Jack and Paige took part in a one-run Jr. Dragster race held on Sunday.
Despite the early loss, John remains a contender for the North Central Division Top Dragster champion so he and Mike are currently making plans to attend the final Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event of the season at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Nov. 5-8. Since he has two races left in which to claim points, Mike is also planning on continuing his pursuit of the Top Sportsman title at next weekend’s Doorslammer Nationals at Ohio Valley Raceway.
“This race was huge but I don’t think this championship is over yet,” said Mike. “I still have two races to improve my score and I’m going to take advantage of them. The Ohio Valley Race is an eighth-mile race which should be interesting and then John and I are going to load up and go to Las Vegas to finish the year. That should be a lot of fun.”
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