GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 16) — Troy Coughlin's defense of his NHRA Pro Mod Series championship got off to a slow start Saturday at the 44th annual Amalie Gatornationals when he lost his opening-round race against Von Smith by a razor-thin .0036 seconds.

Coughlin had a massive head-start in his Corvette, leaving the starting line with a .047-second reaction time to Smith's late .113-second launch. But Smith's supercharged Camaro slowly reeled in Coughlin's twin turbo-powered hot rod and was able to nose ahead by 15 inches at the finish line.

"I wanted to go some rounds at this race, especially with it being Dad's birthday," Coughlin said. "We had a tough draw in Round 1 and with the rule changes this year we just struggled enough that it cost us. We're on the right track and we'll get it figured out.

"This is exactly how last year started and it ended up being pretty good for us so we'll regroup and move forward."

The final numbers had Smith winning with a 5.967 at 244.69 mph to Coughlin's 6.036 at 232.55 mph. Coughlin had qualified 10th with a 6.006 at 238.85 mph.

"We've got a fantastic team and that showed today," Coughlin said. "The car kind of nosed over in Q3 and to play it safe we swapped out the motor. That's a pretty big deal with these turbo cars, but they didn't miss a beat. They had it done in plenty of time.

"We'll be able to recover from this just fine and be ready for Charlotte. The NHRA will get the turbo cars and the nitrous and blown cars as similar as possible and the racing will be awesome again."

The next race for the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx is the Four-Wide NHRA Nationals, which run April 19-21 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte.



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