TJ COUGHLIN SCORES MONUMENTAL VICTORY
Troy Coughlin Jr. realized a lifelong dream Sunday by earning his first Top Alcohol Dragster NHRA national event victory in his home state of Ohio. Coughlin cruised past Will Smith in the final to cap off a perfect weekend where he parlayed a dominating No. 1 qualifying effort into his seventh national-level Wally.
"This is all a kid from Ohio could ask for," said Coughlin, who was runner-up at this event one year ago. "Having my wife Brenna, my mom (Michelle Shelly), my dad (Troy Sr.), Pappy (grandfather Jeg Coughlin Sr.), my uncle Jeg (Coughlin), aunt Samantha (Coughlin) and my goddaughter Carly all here, it's just so special.
"Seeing Pappy's face at the top end when I got out of the car was something I'll never forget. I just thanked him over and over for giving all of us this opportunity to do what we love. It's all about family and it's built on love. I wish everyone could experience this feeling.
"To win in this class takes near perfection and the McPhillips Racing guys were on kill all weekend. Rich and Richie (McPhillips), Duke Roney, John Flenard, Andy Goode, Charlie Wroten and Charlie Greco -- this one is for all of you."
After eliminating Jasmine Salinas and Mike Bucher Saturday, Coughlin opened Sunday's semifinal action against Josh Hart without the advantage of lane choice, a big factor on a super-hot racing surface. But the JEGS.com Garage Gear dragster went straight down the track, carrying Coughlin to a superb 5.230 at 275.56 mph to Hart's 5.335 at 270.64 mph.
Up next, with the coveted trophy on the line, Coughlin drew first-time finalist Will Smith, who simply didn't have enough in a 5.266 to 5.564 thrashing at the hands of the talented Buckeye.
"I have so much confidence in this car," said Coughlin, who left first on all of his opponents this weekend. "It's been running so well that I've had extra time to spend working on my reaction times and it feels good to do my part with good starts. When you have a car that everyone knows is capable of winning, you want to be up to the challenge as a driver.
"I have a feeling this celebration is going to last awhile. It takes so much to get here and we want to enjoy the moment."
The most successful of the third generation of racing Coughlins, Troy Jr. now has two nationals event wins in Top Alcohol Dragster, a category he joined just one year ago. He is the reigning North Central Region champion, with three TAD divisional wins to go with three Super Gas divisional wins. He also is the 2013 Division 3 Super Gas champ.