LAS VEGAS (Oct. 26) — World champion drag racer Troy Coughlin arrives at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for this weekend’s 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals intent on securing another top-10 finish in the Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
Racing most of the 2011 season in crew chief Jake Hairston’s small-block Pontiac GTO, Coughlin was a crowd favorite at every stop. But having less horsepower than the others was too much to overcome and he enters the season finale in 13th place. But the class has been so tough this year that he’s only 21 points, or about one round of action, out of the top 10, giving the team purpose.
Now wheeling a brand-new, twin-turbocharged JEGS.com Chevy Camaro, Coughlin has the same engine and combination as the class leaders and with a couple of races worth of experience under his belt, he says contending for the event win, and a spot in the top 10, is very realistic.
“We’ve definitely got a shot,” Coughlin said. “We qualified very well in Indy and were right there with all the top teams so there’s no reason to think we can’t turn it on again here. The guys have done a great job and we’re all feeling a certain level of confidence. Big thanks to Jake, Bryan Metzenheim, Mike Rees, Nick Gaylord and all the guys at JEGS.com.
“I know I’m comfortable behind the wheel and before everyone headed out west for this race I asked them straight out if we needed to test anything or if there was something they wanted to change, but everyone said we were good to go. The car’s been serviced from front to back and it’s ready to race.”
Although he won’t match his fourth-place finish from 2010, the past NMCA world champion says every spot they can earn is important.
“We want to get in the top 10, for sure,” Coughlin said. “The main thing is to make progress. We’ve gone through so many combinations, cars and crew chiefs over the last few years. It’s been so nice to have the same group stay together. Now we have the car we’re going to race for the foreseeable future so our game plan is set.”
The JEGS team will race back-to-back events in Las Vegas. After the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, the group will begin to gear up for the seventh annual Street Car Super Nationals, which runs Nov. 17-20 under PSCA sanction.
“That’ll be a cool race also,” Coughlin said. “We just need to add 150 pounds to the car. They expect 55-60 cars at that event so all the hitters will be there.”
Qualifying for the 11th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals begins Friday with two rounds of action scheduled for 11:45 a.m. and 5 p.m.