Veteran drag racer Troy Coughlin thought he had winning at the top level of the sport figured out after scoring his first NHRA Pro Stock victory in the fall of 2001 at the Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. But as the 2002 season reached its midway point, Coughlin was still searching for a bookend Wally trophy and the reality of just how hard it is to beat the best drivers in the world in a given weekend were apparent.

Then in the heat of the summer at Heartland Park Topeka, Coughlin found his groove once again, beating Greg Anderson on a massive holeshot, J.R. Carr, his brother Jeg Coughlin, and Mark Whisnant for his second NHRA Pro Stock win.

The first-round win over Anderson was pivotal as Troy left with a .048-second reaction time to Anderson’s dead-late .129-second start. The incredible launch translated to Troy winning with a 6.924 at 198.23 mph to Anderson’s quicker and faster, but ultimately losing, 6.894 at 200.14 mph.

From there Troy was on a string, easily outrunning the rest of his opponents to reach HPT’s winner’s circle.

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