Much like a sports team that stockpiles draft picks in an effort to improve its long-term prospects, John Coughlin sacrificed much of the 2010 season with the hopes that it will pay big dividends in 2011 and beyond. Coming off a 2009 season that included a dramatic late-season run to the North Central Division Top Dragster title, Coughlin made sweeping changes this year, debuting an all new TnT Race Cars dragster in the Top Dragster division and moving his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt from Super Stock to Comp Eliminator.
“We knew that with two basically new race cars that there would be a learning curve this year and there was,” said John. “We didn’t have a whole lot of highlights but I did finish third in the Top Dragster points so that was something. It was the first time in a long time that I had no wins, but we did make a lot of progress with both cars. I really did have a lot of fun racing the Comp car with the stick shift because it reminded me of racing in the old Pro Stock Truck class a few years ago.”
Coughlin managed a respectable tenth place finish in North Central Division competition in his first year in Comp Eliminator but the majority of his success came in Top Dragster, where he once again challenged for the series championship. Although he was not able to defend his 2009 title, Coughlin made major progress with his new JEGS.com dragster. The new car, which was built by TnT Race Cars, allowed Coughlin to achieve personal bests in the 6.4-second range at over 205-mph, allowing him to be one of the top qualifiers at every event.
“We were very consistent with the dragster but we just never were able to put it all together and win a race,” said Coughlin. “Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes. The new car was really great and I felt like I did a decent job of driving but these days it is so tough that everything needs to fall in place perfectly in order to win a race and that just never happened for us.”
Coughlin is already eying the 2011 season and looks to alter his game plan slightly as he’s going to primarily focus on re-claiming the Top Dragster championship while also planning to be a part of many family related activities along with his wife, Diana, son, Cody, and daughter, Kennedi. First off, John plans to work hand-in-hand with Cody as he continues to make progress in his burgeoning Stock Car racing career. The JEGS Mail Order team recently hired 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year Landon Cassill to mentor 14-year-old Cody, as he makes the transition to late model stock cars in 2011. With many wins and championship on his resume, John also expects to be an integral part of his son’s development.
“Racing two cars has never been easy especially two cars as different as my Top Dragster and Comp car,” said Coughlin. “That’s why this season I’m pretty much just going to focus on the Top Dragster. I’m also going to do a lot of circle track racing with Cody. He’s made a lot of progress in the last couple of years and it’s obvious that he has a bright future ahead of him. I want to support him and give him every opportunity to succeed so that’s our plan for 2011.”
Although it is several months away, John, Diana and Kennedi are already beginning to prepare for Skate for Hope, a breast cancer awareness event that will be held June 18 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. This year’s event will include several Olympic skaters including three-time national champion Johnny Weir as well as a number of talented amateurs. The JEGS Foundation for Cancer Research will once again be a presenting sponsor of the Skate for Hope event which has raised more than $293,000 for cancer research to date. Proceeds from Skate for Hope are donated to the Stephanie Spielman Fund at the Ohio State University James Cancer Center and the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer.
“Although most of my life revolves around cars and racing, I really enjoy being able to do other things along with my family, especially when we can contribute to a worthy cause like Skate for Hope,” said John. “It has become an event that I really look forward to each year.”