GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 5) — One surefire way to chase away the winter blues is a two-week-long racing vacation in the Sunshine State. That's exactly what's been on the mind of JEGS.com Top Dragster pilot Mike Coughlin, who is anxious to travel south to the Baby Gators NHRA Division 2 Lucas Oil event, March 6-10, at historic Gainesville Raceway in central Florida.
And to make doubly sure he warms up sufficiently, Coughlin plans to stay on for the 50th annual Amalie Oil Gatornationals the following weekend, March 14-17, and race alongside his brother Jeg Coughlin Jr., Jeg Jr.'s wife Samantha and Mike's nephew Troy Coughlin Jr.
"It's been a long, cold and snowy winter up here in Ohio so I'm definitely in need of some sun therapy," Mike said. "A couple weeks in Florida sounds perfect, especially with a bunch of racing thrown into the mix.
"To have two races in a row at the same facility, one as good as Gainesville Raceway, will give us a great start to what we hope is a championship season. We tested very well recently in Palm Beach and we plan on coming out swinging at the Baby Gators and the regular national event. These two races should give us a solid benchmark of what we can expect this year, and I feel like it's going to be very good."
After an up-and-down 2018, Coughlin and longtime crew members Greg Cody, Dave Raurk, Ryan Micke and Tony Collier exhaustively examined every component on his racecar, eventually finding a few things in the engine set-up that were contributing to occasionally inconsistent performances.
"We chased the tune-up with the EFI last year but just didn't catch a few things and it hurt us," Coughlin said. "But those items have been fixed and we're looking so much better. We have realistic dreams of fighting for both the D3 title and the national championship and we're anxious to win some more races along the way.
"We want to grab everything we can and we're excited about our chances. Top Dragster is extremely tough but so is this team. We're going for it this year."
Also in attendance at this weekend's Baby Gators will be Troy Jr., who will be assisting Rich McPhillips, the owner of the Top Alcohol Dragster Troy Jr. will once again drive this year. McPhillips himself will shakedown the dragster at the Baby Gators with Troy Jr. taking over driving duties for the national event.
"Rich wants to make sure everything is 100-percent ready to go with the racecar," Troy Jr. said. "We changed some things to make us faster this past off-season and, so far, those changes appear to be just what we needed. We tested in West Palm a few weeks back and the car was running great.
"I'm with Uncle Mike: I'm ready for some warm weather, and some drag racing."