“You try not to think about the money, but sometimes it’s hard not to,” said Coughlin. “To me, the big thing about this race is the level of competition that I’ll be facing. Every great racer in the country comes to this event which means you’ve got to be on your toes for every round. This is also an eighth-mile race, which means that there is no margin for error. There are no easy races so you have to bring your ‘A game’ every time you go to the starting line.”
DELAWARE, Ohio (June 16) – Troy (T.J.) Coughlin Jr. will face one of the toughest tests of his young racing career when he travels to O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis this weekend to take on the best bracket racers in the world during the JEGS U.S. Open Bracket Championship. Since it’s inception in 2005, the JEGS U.S. Open has become one of the premiere events in the country for bracket racers. The four-day event, which is the brainchild of racer/promoters Mike Fuqua and Dave Szerlag, is expected to attract upwards of 400 drivers seeking a share of more than $200,000 in cash and prizes. The core of the event is a pair of $20,000 to win races on Friday and Saturday, bookended by a pair of additional $10,000 to win races held Thursday and Sunday. A driver who gets hot at the right time could easily leave Indianapolis with a small fortune, a fact that is not lost on the 20-year old third-generation racer.
Coughlin will be driving the same JEGS.com dragster that he races in the NHRA Super Comp class. With a few minor modifications, Coughlin in confident that his dragster will be a very effective car for E.T. bracket racing, where many rounds are won or lost by a few thousandths of a second.
“We’ve done a lot of work and I’m confident that it will be as good as it can be,” said Coughlin. “My uncle Jeg has helped me a lot in the past two years. He not only helped me set this car up, but he’s also taught me a lot about driving at both ends of the race track.”
Coughlin’s uncle, Jeg Coughlin Jr., is best known as a four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion, but he is also a former winner of the JEGS U.S. Open Bracket Championship, banking a $25,000 payday in 2008. While Jeg will be busy racing his JEGS.com Pro Stock car at the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn., this weekend, T.J. will not be alone as he’ll be joined by ace crew chief, Kenny Underwood, who is regarded as one of the sport’s best E.T. bracket drivers. Underwood’s substantial résumé includes multiple victories at the prestigious Moroso 5-Day E.T. Championships as well as an IHRA championship in 2006.
“Kenny is another guy who has been around for a long time and knows so much about bracket racing,” said Coughlin. “He’s seen and done it all and I don’t think there is any situation that he isn’t prepared for. He’s definitely made me a better driver. It’s going to be intense this weekend, but I also think we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
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