CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 23) — Multi-time drag racing champion Mike Coughlin has been tearing down quarter-mile strips since 1985, long before his current teammate and nephew Troy Coughlin Jr. was even born. Yet when the two roll into zMax Dragway for this weekend’s inaugural NHRA 4-Wide Nationals he’ll be the one acting like a teenager.

“My brother Jeg (Coughlin, Pro Stock champion) says zMax Dragway is unbelievable,” Mike said. “It’s probably the biggest reason why I’m so excited about this race. Everyone says it’s the nicest drag strip in the world. I can’t wait to see it in person.”

The reigning Division 3 Top Sportsman champion, Mike also looks at the 4-Wide Nationals as a rare chance to compete at a national event alongside youngest brother Jeg, who will be racing the Chevrolet Cobalt in Pro Stock, a car very similar in appearance to Mike’s Top Sportsman racecar.

“It’s been four years since I’ve raced with Jeg at a national event,” Mike said. “That also makes this event pretty special for me. And then there’s the whole 4-Wide racing; that’s going to be something to see.

“Dad (Jeg Sr.) says the track is exceptionally smooth and quick, which should play into our favor. Our car tends to be very consistent so we like it when the track is consistent also. I think this is the best chance we’ll have all year to win a national event. We might as well get it done at the nicest strip.”

At last weekend’s JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals, Mike recorded a career-best pass of 6.68 seconds at 207 mph, proving he has the horsepower to win. His son Jack’s first exhibition runs in the Junior Dragster also lifted Mike’s spirits.

“Seeing the pure excitement for drag racing out of my little boy really reminded me of why we do this,” Mike said. “I want that same smile on my face this weekend.”

Across the pit, Troy Jr., or T.J. as he’s widely known, will be looking for consecutive national event victories in his Super Comp dragster. T.J. closed his 2009 campaign with a landmark win at the Las Vegas 2 event and arrives at zMax Dragway fresh from last weekend’s Cajun SPORTSnationals with the title of “King of the Bayou.”

“It was a first round, out-of-the-blue moment,” Troy Jr. said of earning his new moniker. “They put up $1,500 for the ‘King of the Bayou,’ which was given to the driver who had the best package of the session. I had a good light, .013 seconds, and was probably going to go under the index but I saw I had a few feet to pull up at the end, so I did and put an 8.904 on the board. My .017-second package won the money. It was really cool.”

With his driving ability on par, T.J. hopes for better results on his second trip to Charlotte. At last year’s fall event he was eliminated in the first round.

“It would be something to win Charlotte,” T.J. said. “I know exactly what Uncle Mike is feeling right now because it wasn’t that long ago I was the new guy going in there. You walk up from the staging lanes to the starting line and it’s like walking into the Super Bowl. The place is so big and so nice, it makes you feel really special.

“I think we can really do some good this weekend. The car is doing everything we ask it to do. It’s very reliable. I just need to drive to the situation, kill the tree, and stay within what I can do in the racecar.”

Joining T.J. in pursuit of the Super Comp trophy will be Samantha Kenny, who is engaged to Jeg Jr. Kenny’s last national event victory came last year in Norwalk, Ohio.


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