NORWALK, Ohio (July 4) – JEGS.com Pro Mod drivers Troy Coughlin Sr. and Troy Coughlin Jr. both faced higher qualified drivers in the first round of the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series event presented by the Real Pro Mod Association on Saturday.
And both their opponents made quicker passes. Yet both Coughlins advanced to the second round.
Troy Jr. scored a holeshot win over No. 5 qualifier Jim Whiteley, while Troy Sr. got a holeshot win over No. 1 qualifier Rickie Smith.
"We're all going to sleep a little bit better," Troy Jr. said. "Both cars made good runs, and we'll take what we can get at this point. We're excited. This is a beautiful track. The Bader family does such a nice job, along with the NHRA, making it a good, clean, fun race. We're excited to be a part of the Sunday action here."
Both Coughlins faced long odds after qualifying in the bottom half of the field, but both were stellar on the Christmas Tree.
Troy Jr., the No. 12 qualifier, had a .024-second reaction time to get the jump on Whiteley, and his 5.901-second pass at 250.18 mph was enough to hold off Whiteley's run of 5.866 seconds at 244.03 mph.
"The practice and the regiment we have at home, that's when it pays off," Troy Jr. said of his light. "That's when you can say, 'This practice Tree and simulation and mental imagery is working at its fullest.' And bracket racing pays off, too.
"If you picture a basketball player, he can dribble it in his sleep because he practices a lot. It's the same way with the Tree: It could become second-nature if you let your mind let it be second-nature."
Troy Sr. barely slipped into the field at No. 16, but he was lightning on the Tree with a .011 light, compared to Smith's .049. Their ETs were similar (5.859 at 250.27 mph for Troy Sr. to 5.856 at 247.88 mph for Smith), but the race was won on the Tree.
Troy Sr., though, credited his JEGS.com team's hard work.
"Ricky is a champion and a five-star guy, so beating him is pretty good," Troy Sr. said. "We had a broken gizmo in the car, but (crew chief) Steve (Petty) and the guys got it fixed. What can I say about this whole JEGS.com team? From Steve Petty to Mike Rees to Justin Beaver to Brandon Stroud to Kyle Pettus to Pro Line horsepower, that's definitely a good direction to go nowadays.
"T.J.'s car is running much better. If we keep up on our program, keep fine-tuning and pecking away these things, we'll get it back to where we were last year – up at the top of the heap."