CHARLOTTE (April 6) — When world champion drag racer Troy Coughlin looks for positives heading into NHRA Pro Mod Series action at the third annual 4-Wide Nationals, he needs to go no further than his own pit and new crew chief Steve Petty.

Petty was signed to head Coughlin’s 2,500-horsepower, turbocharged Chevrolet Camaro during the offseason. Prior to this assignment, Petty tuned the turbo entries of Leah Pruett and Melanie Troxel, who raced to the Pro Mod final the last time the NHRA tour ran at zMax Dragway.

“Steve didn’t just win the Charlotte race last year, he had both cars in the final,” Coughlin said. “You can’t get much better than that. It was quite an accomplishment and one of the main reasons we’re so happy he joined our team. He actually won four of the last five races on the 2011 schedule, so he obviously knows what he’s doing.”

Adding to his wealth of experience at zMax Dragway, Petty recently brought the JEGS team back to the track to test in advance of the upcoming national event. Although Coughlin missed the session due to work commitments, crewman Mike Rees filled in and rode Petty’s tune-ups to several 5.9-second passes at speeds just below 250 mph.

“There were quite a few Pro Mod cars at the test so we were able to measure where we were in relation to the nitrous and blown cars,” said Coughlin, the 2009 NMCA Pro Street world champion. “We ended up being the second fastest and third quickest in a real tight bunch at the top of the charts so we were relatively pleased with the test. We know there’s more in this car so the goal is to continue finding all those little hundredths and thousandths of a second we’d like to have.”

Coughlin thinks he’s already burned up some of the wiggle room a racer has to make it through the season so he’s intent on going rounds in Charlotte.

“We qualified pretty well (No. 6) at the season opener in Gainesville but we lost in the first round of eliminations so even though we’re just entering the second race of the year I feel some pressure,” he said. “We only have 10 national events in this series so each race represents a tenth of the season.

“I feel like we need to make up some ground already. I’d really like to reach at least the semifinals. We simply have to go rounds every race to stay in the mix. We have the car and the crew to do it. If the driver does his job, we’ll have a great chance.”

Qualifying action begins just after noon Friday.


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