After a start to the season that might have had NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series standout Troy Coughlin ready to push the reset button, the 2012 world champion got the turnaround he was hoping for with a victory at the tour’s most recent event in Norwalk.
Now after more than a month off, Coughlin and his JEGS.com Chevy Corvette want a second straight NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series win, this time at the world’s most prestigious drag race, the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
It is the seventh of 10 races during the 2014 NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and Mike Janis, who is currently second in points, serves as the defending event winner. Coughlin’s mindset at the race in Indy, which is also presented by JEGS, will likely be similar to his winning effort in Norwalk, where his season finally got on track.
“The win was huge,” Coughlin said. “It lifted everyone's spirits and definitely gives us a ton of momentum going into Indy. We really just calmed everything down and stopped trying to rotate the earth every run. We just got the car down the track and then started fine-tuning from there. We weren't the fastest car by any means but we were super consistent and that worked.”
After just two round wins in the first five races of the season, Coughlin made major steps in Norwalk, qualifying a season-best sixth and beating 2010 world champion Von Smith in the final round for his first win of the year. That puts Coughlin in strong position for his first NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series win at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
As far as his favorite memories of Indy, Coughlin could have picked from a variety of special moments his family has compiled at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, including his first national event win (in Super Gas) in 1991. Instead, he focused on the atmosphere the race has provided over the years.
“As a kid growing up in the sport, Indy was always the last hurrah before school started,” Coughlin said. “It was the last time you had to cut loose before getting back to work at your studies. We'd go over there and watch Dad race, try to help him out as much as we could. We'd ride our bikes all over the pits with our friends and we'd go race each other around the circle track. Even to this day, as much as the race means, the time in the pits with all your friends is what makes it special.”
Coughlin won’t have much time to reminisce this weekend at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, in part because of the competition level that continues to grow at seemingly every event in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
A remarkable 34 cars are entered for the biggest event of the year, which means qualifying, yet alone winning the race will make for a tremendous challenge. Coughlin will have to get by a loaded class that also includes the likes of Mike Castellana, Pete Farber, Steve Matusek, Danny Rowe and current points leader and reigning world champion Rickie Smith.
But even with a month off Coughlin stayed busy, fine-tuning his turbo-charged Corvette to have it ready for Indy, where Coughlin knows he must be totally focused through all four qualifying sessions and eliminations.
“The Pro Mod class gets more competitive every day,” Coughlin said. “Having that many cars in Indy just means it will be that much harder just to get into the field. They're all quality cars running all three different power combinations and it should be a great show for the fans. Every round will mean so much, from the moment we roll up to the starting line for the first round of qualifying. You will absolutely have to be on your toes every session to even have a chance.”
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars with an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs and ’68 Firebirds as well as a wide variety of late-model cars, the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast.
NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, Aug. 29 with a session at 5:30 p.m., continuing with two qualifying session on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and a final session on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 10:30 a.m. Round one of eliminations is later on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
To purchase tickets for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, fans can contact NHRA’s Ticket Sales Center at 800-884-NHRA (6472), or get their tickets online at www.NHRATIX.com.