LAS VEGAS (Nov. 23) — World champion drag racer Troy Coughlin knew he’d have his hands full at the Street Car Super Nationals V presented by Chassisworks at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But he had no way of knowing just how tough it would be spending a “fun weekend” in Las Vegas.

Fresh off his NMCA world championship season, Coughlin entered his beefed-up JEGS.com Pontiac GXP in the event that traditionally pits the top racers from the country against one another for big cash prizes and bragging rights and came away with a respectable third-round finish. Considering that 53 drivers fought hard to make a 32-car field spanning from Coby Rabon’s unfathomable 5.985 at 243.59 mph to Mike Bruno’s 6.533 at 216.86 mph, Coughlin was thrilled to see how well he matched up against such a wide variety of racecars and drivers.

“This was a lot of fun,” Coughlin said. “We saw some of the last-minute rule changes they made and felt a little bit like we had brought a knife to a gun fight, but we still managed to take out a few big guns and meet some really neat people. All in all, it was a success.”

Anticipating a rough crowd, Coughlin and crew dropped a new 932 cubic inch Sonny Leonard motor under the hood that added 150 horsepower to their regular NMCA package, but even with approximately 2,080 horsepower they had a tough time keeping pace.

“When Coby ran that 5.98 with his turbo car we all pretty much just shook our heads and laughed,” Coughlin said. “He was almost a tenth and a half up on the closest guy and as cool as it was to witness, it had the rest of us thinking of other options.

“We were optimistic with our package. Sonny gave this motor the thumbs up and we expected it to perform well, and it did. We started off with a slew of 6.30s and figured we could get it down into the 6.20s, so we tuned it as much as we could. It was running very rich and when we leaned it out it made more power and spun the tires. We were chasing it back and forth like that for the rest of the weekend until we just ran out of rear-end components.”

The team ended up qualified 16th overall with a 6.356 at 223.06 mph, which set up a first-round race against Bob Bunker Jr. The contest almost immediately went Coughlin’s way as he left first with a .021 to .042-second reaction time advantage and cruised away for the win with a 6.290 at 225.48 mph to Bunker’s 6.610 at 209.85 mph.

Up next, Coughlin faced No. 1 qualifier Rabon and dodged a huge bullet when Rabon inexplicably left -.001 seconds early, lighting the red-light and giving the instant win to Coughlin. Adding to Rabon’s pain was the fact he posted the best pass of the weekend, a 5.961 at 245.09 mph, but it was Coughlin’s 6.351 at 224.96 mph that got the win.

In the quarterfinals, Coughlin squared off against No. 8 qualifier Clint Hairston and despite a monumental .007- to .074-second headstart, Coughlin fell to the eventual event runner-up when Hairston pulled off a 6.186 at 235.39 mph to Coughlin’s 6.359 at 223.76 mph.

“We woke up Sunday morning hoping it would get hot because I think that would have leveled the playing field a little bit,” Coughlin said. “Instead, it was nice and cool, just about perfect, and some of these guys were just able to fly out there.

“It was still a great time. It was like the old days in Pro Stock when 40, 50 cars would show up for national events. You know if you had a good day that you really had accomplished something. That’s kind of how we feel now.”

With playtime over with, Coughlin will now begin preparing for his title defense on the 2010 NMCA Pro Street tour.

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