DELAWARE, Ohio (Dec. 6) — Veteran drag racer Troy Coughlin entered the 2008 JEGS ProMod Challenge feeling as though he had all the pieces in place to win his first national championship. As it turns out, the 44-year-old, second-generation professional was lucky just to keep all of the pieces of his body in place after suffering the worse accident of his driving career.

Coughlin’s ’08 campaign will forever be remembered by his scary wreck at Atlanta Dragway that drastically altered his season. Thankfully he emerged from the double-wall-banging incident with only minor bumps and bruises. However, his Pontiac GTO racecar was totaled, relegating Coughlin to the sidelines for four long months that erased any chance he had of being a contender.

“In a second’s time, everything changed,” Coughlin said. “I’ve wrecked cars before but I’ve never had my bell run like that. It was a real attention-getter.

“The big bummer out of that deal was ruining the car. We had just figured it out at that race and had qualified so well (No. 5 6.021 at 239.57 mph). You’re all happy that you have your hot rod figured out and then suddenly you’re thanking your lucky stars all your safety equipment worked. It certainly altered the course of the season.”

Thanks to the generous offers of many of the racers he battles on the track each weekend, Coughlin could have returned to action sooner than he actually did, but he didn’t want his own misfortune to undermine anyone else’s season.

Instead, Coughlin and the crew went on a countrywide hunt for their own car and eventually found a brand-new ’68 Camaro built by Tommy Mauney of TM Race Cars. The sleek hot rod was intended for bracket racer Danny Blakenship but he was willing to part with the piece to help out Coughlin and his predicament.

“We were fortunate to find that car,” Coughlin said. “It’s probably the nicest racecar I’ve ever owned and as soon as I sat in it I felt comfortable right away.

“It was pretty much a bare chassis that needed absolutely everything done to it to get it ready to race. Then we needed to find the proper tune-up and race day configuration. We had a lot of work to do.”

Once they returned to action, it took just two races for Coughlin and crew to find a happy set-up for their new car and their 6.010-second defeat of Kirk Kuhns in the first round of the Dallas event proved they were on to something special. The run turned out to be their best of the season.

As the season wound down, Coughlin’s Camaro was producing 6.0-second passes with ease, giving the team a lot of encouraging feedback as they look towards 2009.

“This was our first year with a supercharged car so we were all on a learning curve,” Coughlin said. “Brad Anderson was very instrumental in getting us up to speed and the guys really worked hard to learn the nuances of one of these animals. The wreck didn’t help at all but these things happen in racing. I’m very confident we’ll have a much better season in 2009.”

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