LAS VEGAS (Nov. 1) — Third-generation driver Troy Coughlin Jr. concluded his first year in the Pro Stock class Sunday with a quarterfinal finish at the 20th annual Dodge NHRA Finals. Coughlin trounced Chris McGaha in the opening round of action at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before dropping a nail-biter to newly re-crowned world champion Erica Enders in Round 2.
“I’m very grateful for the incredible opportunity I’ve had to race with Elite Motorsports this year,” Coughlin said. “This is such a class organization with the best crewmen in the sport and it’s no surprise to me to see the team win another Pro Stock championship. Congrats to everyone, especially Erica Enders and her guys, and thank you for letting me be a part of it all.”
After winning back-to-back Top Alcohol Dragster regional championships in the last two seasons, Coughlin moved to Pro Stock this year to race alongside his uncle Jeg Coughlin Jr., who retired from full-time competition at the conclusion of Sunday’s race. Prior to his successful stint in Top Alcohol Dragster, Coughlin raced in Top Fuel, Pro Mod, Top Dragster and Junior Dragster. Even while racing Pro Stock this year, he continues to compete in Super Comp and Super Gas and at various E.T. Bracket events.
“I’ve said since the beginning I’m the luckiest kid in the pits and I still feel that way,” said Troy Jr., who drove the JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Ford Mustang this season. “Having had the opportunity to drive so many different cars in a bunch of different classes, and to have had the crews I’ve worked with through the years, is just incredible.
“This year was probably the pinnacle because, without question, Pro Stock is the most challenging category of all. It’s the most cognitive workout you can have in a racecar between executing good burnouts, working the clutch and hitting the shift points just right, to keeping the car straight all the way down the track. It’s such a challenge to try to make a perfect lap every time knowing a perfect lap doesn’t really exist.”
The highlight of the 2020 season for Troy Jr. was reaching the final round of the third Indy race, where he lost to his uncle Jeg Jr. That big day helped him finish 13th overall, despite missing the first two of 10 nationals events.
“Special thanks to (crew chief) Rick Jones, Mike DePalma, Eric Luzinski and Robert Freeman for their help on my car,” Troy Jr. said. “They had it hopped up today and I got past Chris McGaha with a nice, smooth pass. We were set for the second round also against Erica but my left leg (clutch) was a few thousandths of a second slower than it needed to be and she beat us on a holeshot by .002 of a second.
“It’s been emotional today seeing Uncle Jeg roll down that return road for the last time. I shed a few tears watching that and thinking about all the things he’s taught me. He’s always been a hero to me and he definitely earned ‘The Natural’ nickname because he’s the best we’ve ever seen. I still have plenty to learn from him and I know he’ll always be there for me. “I’m not sure what’s next for me but whatever it is, it can’t come soon enough.”