CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 12) — Earlier this season after tinkering with the rules for the J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, NHRA officials promised competitors no more changes for the remainder of the year. That promise has been broken with turbo-powered entries losing two pounds of boost, a massive horsepower hit, on the eve of the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals.
Stunned by the news, but nevertheless undaunted, two-time series champion Troy Coughlin promises to fight on with his twin-turbo JEGS.com Chevrolet Corvette C7, which he's raced to second place on the strength of four final-round showings in a row.
"With just three races left in our season the timing of this decision is tough, but it's the NHRA's sandbox so they can do whatever they want I suppose," Coughlin said. "The quickest team runs superchargers and they were left as is but turbo cars are being penalized. It seems to me there is no incentive to make more power or try to get better because when you do they just turn around and take it away from you.
"We actually started hearing this rumor a week or so ago so we figured they would target the turbo-charged cars. We went to work right away to try and find different ways to make power. Eric Dillard and his crew at Proline Racing Engines have been very proactive and we're fighting back the best we can."
Coughlin's own race team — crew chief Steve Petty and crewmen Mike Rees and Kyle Pettis — also have been working around the clock to prepare for the changes.
"I firmly believe we have the best team in NHRA competition and we're not going to give up," Coughlin said. "(Championship-leading crew chief Frank) Manzo was faster than us before and he'll be even faster now so I guess we can hope (driver Mike) Castellana has another race like Indy where he goes out early and we manage to go more rounds than him. We will just go further out on the ragged edge with our tune-up.
"It's an unfortunate situation but we'll roll with it and try our best to finish on top. If we can qualify well and go one round more than them in Charlotte we'll be very close to being tied with two races left. That will give us two more weeks until the next race in St. Louis and we'll be able to test and try different things."
Pro Mod qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2 and 4:30 p.m., Friday, and 12 p.m., Saturday. Round 1 of eliminations will be held at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, with subsequent rounds taking place beginning at 1:50 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)