BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 16) — Veteran drag racer Troy Coughlin has accomplished so much in his career, from championships to race wins to national records, that it would seem impossible for him to decide on a single moment that outshines all the others. But for the 45-year-old from Delaware, Ohio, the answer is easy.
“Winning the Winston Showdown at Bristol back in 2000 was about as good as it gets,” he said. “I’ll never forget that one. It was pretty special.”
Facing an all-star cast of Pro Stock professionals with $50,000 — the sport’s single biggest raceday purse — on the line, Coughlin coolly rolled through the field and bagged the top prize with a convincing thrashing of final-round foe Mark Pawuk.
“Being an all-star race you had to be invited in and then Winston put up that big check and everyone was just going for the throat,” Coughlin said. “It was intense. Winning that deal with all that on the line is definitely a memory I will always cherish.”
Ten years later, Coughlin arrives at the 10th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals as part of the Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. His powerful, nitrous-powered Camaro has carried him to a lofty fifth-place ranking in the championship points with five races down and five to go on the schedule.
“We like where we’re at,” he said. “Von Smith has won a couple races and gained a little gap on the rest of us but we’re in that front chase group and I know everyone is aiming to slow him down. We had a great shot at Von (in Round 1 of the Englishtown race) and we were right there with him but he got the win. If we had upset him there, it would look quite different in the points right now.
“We’re up for the challenge. The guys have us running really strong right now and although we’re still at a considerable disadvantage to the supercharged cars we are getting this thing down the track with five-second passes now, so that’s encouraging.”
Winning a second Bristol trophy this weekend could erase most of the four-round deficit Coughlin currently has to Smith.
“A big weekend could really make things interesting,” Coughlin said. “I love the track, the fans are awesome, and I have great memories of the track. I’m excited to get there and fire up this racecar.”
Pro Mod qualifying sessions will begin at 4:30 and 7 p.m. EDT Friday.
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