DELAWARE, Ohio (Dec. 14) – Mike Coughlin won his second Dart Top Sportsman Series title in the most dramatic way possible in 2009 — with a final-round victory against this closest rival at the season’s last event.
Coughlin had driven his Chevrolet Cobalt to a win at the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals and a pair of runner-up finishes during the season yet still found himself locked in a heated battle with Ricky Adkins heading into the final weeks of the year. At the Southeast Division Lucas Oil Series event in Reynolds, Ga., Ga., Coughlin and Adkins met in the final round with Coughlin scoring a decisive victory to clinch the title.


“Ricky and I battled back and forth all year long and it was kind of ironic that we got to have a winner-take-all race for the championship,” Coughlin said. “I’ve never been in a race like that. It was a lot of pressure but I was fortunate enough to have it go my way. That was definitely the highlight of my season. I won the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals in Columbus and then went to the final round of the Doorslammer Nationals in Louisville ( Ky.) and I started to think I was in pretty good shape. Then, when Ricky got to the final, I found out that if he won the race, he’d pass me. It was all pretty thrilling.”


Ironically, when the 2009 season began, Coughlin had no intentions of pursuing the Top Sportsman title. Instead, he was planning to join his brother John in the Top Dragster class. But he had a change of heart early in the year after running one event in the Top Dragster division, quickly changing course and returning to the familiar confines of his Chevy.


“I enjoyed the few runs that I made in Top Dragster but I just realized I liked racing my Cobalt a little better,” Coughlin said. “Before I ran the dragster, I drove the Cobalt at the [JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals] in Belle Rose, La., and got to the final so that helped set the tone for the season. We also realized that with my brother John racing in Top Dragster there was no way we could both win so that helped make my decision easier. Since John won the Top Dragster championship and I won in Top Sportsman, I guess we did the right thing.”


Following an off-season performance upgrade that included a new engine from Sonny Leonard, Coughlin’s car consistently ran elapsed times in the 6.7-second range at speeds of more than 200 mph, nearly matching the performance of his brother Jeg’s NHRA Pro Stock car. Coughlin was able to quickly adapt to the quicker elapsed times and faster speeds with the help of his crew, which included his father, Jeg Coughlin Sr., and Greg Cody, who returned to the team this season.


“We had a few handling issues at the start of the season but we were able to get them sorted out,” Coughlin said. “When Greg came back he really helped make a difference. He was with me for the wins in Columbus and Reynolds and the runner-up finish in Louisville. Just having him there helped give me a lot of confidence. Now were going to enjoy the championship this winter and get ready to go back out and do it all over again in 2010.”




Won the North Central Division Dart Top Sportsman Series championship


Scored a title-clinching victory at the Southeast Division Lucas Oil Series Race in Reynolds, Ga., Ga.


Won the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals at his home track of National Trail Raceway


Quote book: “This is the second time in the last three years that my brother John and I both won championships. It really worked out well for both of us.” – Mike Coughlin




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