MARTIN, Mich. (Aug. 30) — The first national championship of veteran racer Troy Coughlin’s two-decade-long drag racing career is just a breathe away after the driver of the Pontiac GXP Pro Street machine raced to a strong semifinal finish at Sunday’s third annual JE Pistons Muscle Car Nationals at Milan Dragway.

The point leader in the Scorpion Performance Pro Street rankings since winning the Chicago race in mid July, it turned out the only thing capable of slowing Coughlin and crew down on the racetrack was a faulty battery, which ended their latest national event winning streak at two events.

“We’re really excited in the JEGS camp,” Coughlin said while driving from Michigan to his home in Delaware, Ohio. “We’ve had the calculator out trying to figure out all the point scenarios and we’re not sure whether we’ve clinched the title or not. I think it’s going to be very close. Either way, we’ve got one race left and it’s our intention to go win that race and close out the season strong.”

Prior to this weekend’s race, Coughlin held 190-point edge over second-place Vinny Budano and a 530-point advantage over third-place Chris Rini. Budano didn’t show up for this weekend’s race, while Rini raced to a runner-up result.

“The best we can figure is it would take either Vinny or Chris winning the final race of the year and setting a national record along the way and for us not to show up at all for someone else to win it but we’ll wait until the official points come out before we start celebrating,” Coughlin said. “As I said before, we plan on racing in Memphis (Oct. 15-18) no matter what so perhaps it won’t matter.”

Coughlin certainly has a great hot rod. He was easily the No. 1 qualifier this weekend with a huge 6.359 at 221.59 mph. He then dispatched Rick Blaisdell with a 6.412 at 216.34 mph against Blaisdell’s out-of-shape 9.829 before encountering battery problems in his semifinal contest against eventual race winner Noel Felton.

“We’re not sure what happened with the car,” Coughlin said. “We just had no power at all. Fortunately, we’ve had very few problems at all with this car all year so we’ll just take this as one of those things that happen and make sure we have the car totally prepped for Memphis. The guys have been close to perfect all year. This was just one of those things no one can predict.

“It would have been fun to race Noel and try to get another win. It just wasn’t meant to be this weekend. Still, in the grander scheme of things, we’re as pleased as we can be.”


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