INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 6) — In her first race as a member of the renowned drag racing Coughlin family, newlywed Samantha Coughlin survived five cutthroat rounds of Super Comp racing before red-lighting against Britt Cummings in the semifinals of drag racing’s longest running and most prestigious race — the 57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil.
“Running on Monday at Indy is a lot fun,” said Coughlin, who married five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. on Aug. 6. “It doesn’t really matter what happens after you get to Monday because just the fact that you made it this far is a huge accomplishment.”
Coughlin got lots of tuning help from her husband, a four-time U.S. Nationals champion, both at the track and later over the phone as previous commitments had him to leaving town before her racing activities were concluded. She also got an assist from Jeg’s nephew Troy Coughlin Jr., a fellow Super Comp racer and defending champion of the race. Samantha also had support and help from her dad, mom and brother Jason.
“T.J. was my game day consultant,” Samantha said. “He studied all the other racers and told me what they were up to. He’s so great to have around. I’m glad my cell phone doesn’t charge by the minute because I was on the phone a lot with Jeg too. It was a real team effort.
“It’s been a great weekend and I feel lucky to have shared it with my friends and family at the racetrack.”
Coughlin’s journey began with her win over Ron Finney, who broke out of the class’ 8.90 index. Up next was Dave Dahlem, whom she beat with a 8.910 to Dahlem’s 8.943.
Things heated up in Round 3 when Ronnie Siani posted the exact same E.T. as Coughlin, a 8.912, but the race was won at the starting line as Siani had left early.
Multi-time world champion and current national points leader Gary Stinnett was the next test but Coughlin beat him at both ends of the track, leaving .012 second ahead of reigning class titlist and posting a 8.906 at 178.87 mph to his 8.915 at 177.56 mph.
“I felt great just to be a part of the last 14 cars and to have a chance to race Gary,” Coughlin said. “I thought, ‘Gosh I’m one of the last ones standings out of all those cars. This is awesome. Whatever happens from here on out, I’m smiling and having fun.'”
The remarkable win over Stinnett earned Coughlin a bye run into the semifinals.
“I had that bye round to start today so I was able to get rid of all my ‘Monday at Indy’ nerves,” Coughlin said. “That round against Britt I put my helmet on and got strapped in and was totally calm, enjoying the moment. I just jumped the light. Still, this was an Indy I’ll never forget.”
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