READING, Pa. (Aug. 23) — Championship contender Troy Coughlin arrives for this weekend’s fifth annual Ross Pistons NMCA Hot Rod and Muscle Car Nationals event at Maple Grove Raceway intent on continuing his climb in the national points standings. The former NHRA Pro Stock and sportsman star is currently third, just 30 points out of second place and 285 off leader Vinny Budano.

This weekend’s race is the fifth of seven in the Denso Pro Street category so Coughlin has lots of time to make up the deficit. A competitor can earn as many as 690 points per event. Coughlin’s current margin can effectively be made up in two rounds.

“The key is to continue doing exactly what we’ve been doing, which is going rounds every race,” said Coughlin, who has one runner-up finish to his credit and is coming off a semifinal run at the last event in Chicago. “We’ve taken the last few weeks and thrashed on this JEG’S Mail Order Cavalier to make it better. We’re trying to make the car more efficient so we can achieve better elapsed times with the same power we’ve always had. Basically, we’ve been fiddling with it to make it faster.”

Coughlin and crew recently went to Maple Grove Raceway, the site of this weekend’s event, for some on-track testing. Coughlin hopes the time on the racetrack, as well as his previous experience there, will pay dividends.

“The car responded well to everything we asked it to do,” Coughlin said. “So that was very exciting. We posted a best of 6.58 seconds, which is very strong. If we can duplicate that this weekend we’ll be in great shape.

“I definitely think the fact we’ve raced at Maple Grove in the past will be a big help. We know the track surface very well and we know how to run under various weather conditions there. That sort of knowledge only comes from being there. As a team, JEG’S has logged lots of round wins at this track so we’re comfortable here.”

After taking lots of time this summer to work on the new Pro Modified car he plans to debut in 2007, Coughlin is now trying to narrow his focus to the forthcoming stretch run on the NMCA series.

“The Pro Mod car is still on my list but with just three races left over here we want to do everything we can to win the championship,” Coughlin said. “It would be a first for me and to be this close right now is exciting. The guys have rebuilt the entire car to freshen everything up. We sure don’t want any weird parts failure to trip us up at this point. We’re looking forward to a big weekend.

“The main thing remains the fact that we’re having so much fun this year with this car. The title chase has certainly added to that but to be able to spend more time with the kids and still race a super fast car has been great.”

Teams will be allowed to make runs Friday before professional qualifying begins in earnest Saturday. Eliminations are scheduled for Sunday.


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