READING, Pa. (Aug. 27) — Troy Coughlin crushed the Pro Street field of the Ross Pistons NMCA Hot Rod and Muscle Car Nationals Sunday afternoon and entered the final with lane choice over points leader Vinny Budano. But just when Coughlin was about to put his stamp on the event, rain arrived at Maple Grove Raceway and forced the postponement of the most anticipated final of the year until the next NMCA event in mid-September in Atlanta.

“It was shaping up perfectly for us,” said Coughlin, who had already moved up one spot into second place at the event. “For whatever reason Vinny was struggling on the track. He was there for the taking in Round 1 against (former second-ranked racer) Randall Haynes when he ran a 6.72 and in the semis he didn’t even get down the track. We were ready for him in the final.”

While Budano struggled, Coughlin was a picture of consistency in his JEGS Mail Order Cavalier. He dismissed first-round opponent and top-10 runner Peter Farber with a 6.51 and used a 6.52 against semifinalist David Hance to carry lane choice into his trophy round match-up with Budano.

“On one hand, we could have raced Vinny when he was struggling,” Coughlin said. “But what’s the fun in that? I’m sure he’ll be ready to go in a few weeks when we finish this race and we’ll be loaded up for him as well. Either way, we’ll still have lane choice so that should give us an edge. Quite frankly, considering the way we ran this weekend, I’ll take our chances against anyone right now. The JEGS car is flat-out awesome.”

Coughlin and Budano’s monster match-up has been rescheduled for the second round of professional qualifying at the upcoming fifth annual Nitto Tire NMCA Hot Rod & Muscle Car Nationals in Commerce, Ga. The race runs from Sept. 15-17 at Atlanta Dragway with qualifying action scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 16.

The Atlanta race is the sixth of seven on the 2006 NMCA circuit so the championship implications are gigantic, a fact not lost on Coughlin.

“We’ve got two races in one now,” Coughlin said. “Finishing this race and then seeing what happens in the Atlanta race should really set up an exciting finish for the entire series. And we’ll get to see it all unfold in the span of 48 hours. I can’t wait.”

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