Driving his JEGS.com dragster, Coughlin showed marked improvement as the year progressed, finally finishing with but his first NHRA national event title at the Las Vegas Nationals in early November. Coughlin didn’t just win in Las Vegas; he dominated by winning eight difficult rounds with a string of reaction times that bordered on perfect.
“Winning a national event was something I’ve always dreamed of and even though it’s been a few weeks, I still have a hard time believing it actually happened to me,” Coughlin said. “I worked hard all year to improve my driving, and I had a lot of help from my dad (Troy Sr.), my uncles, John, Mike, and Jeg, and everyone else at JEGS Mail Order. Everything just sort of clicked when we got to Las Vegas.”
Coughlin knew early on that his driving would only improve with a lot of practice so he raced as often as he could in 2009. The turning point came at mid-summer when he attended several large E.T. bracket races. The format of those events allowed Coughlin to hone his skills by making several runs per day and by racing on an eighth-mile course, where critical decisions must be made much quicker than in a traditional quarter-mile race.
“When we started the year I had a lot more confidence than I did last season but I really didn’t start to feel completely comfortable until we ran all those bracket races in the summer,” Coughlin said. “Making a lot of runs each day and having to make all those quick decisions in an eighth-mile race was the best practice I could ask for. [JEGS teammate] Kenny Underwood was a big help and he still is. He is a great racer and he taught me a lot of things at those races that I was able to carry with me for the rest of the year.”
Coughlin continued to make steady progress through the summer months and got his first taste of success in the Super Comp class when he reached the semifinal round of the Virginia Nationals in Richmond. Two weeks later, he bagged that first NHRA Wally in Las Vegas.
“I got down to the last three cars in Richmond and if I had been on my game a little more I think I could have won it,” Coughlin said. “Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long to make up for it.
“Everyone has been telling me I did a great job in Las Vegas but I really don’t dwell on that too much. I’m just trying to keep the same mindset and trying to figure out how to do it again at the next race. I learned a long time ago that in order to be a good racer, you never stop learning so that’s what I’m trying to do. There is a part of me that is disappointed that my first win happened so late in the season because now I want to keep going. I already can’t wait for 2010 to get here.”
TROY COUGHLIN JR. 2009 FACTS
Won first NHRA national event title when he claimed the Super Comp win in Las Vegas
Reached the semifinal round of the NHRA Virginia Nationals in Richmond, Va.
Finished 12th in the North Central Division Super Comp points standings
Quote book: “Winning my first race in Las Vegas was awesome. I’m still trying to get used to the thought of actually winning an NHRA national event.” – Troy Coughlin Jr.
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