The challenge is always monumental when you face six-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Erica Enders on race day. It’s even more monumental when she enters race day as the No. 1 qualifier. 

That’s why third-generation drag racing phenom Troy Coughlin Jr. knew he needed a foolproof plan if only to keep from looking like a fool opposite the winningest female in motorsports. He was in the final round of the seventh stop on the NHRA Mission Foord Drag Racing Series at the New England Nationals in Epping, NH.

Coughlin knew he needed to leave the starting line with a reaction time no slower than .02 seconds and a car capable of holding off one of the more vicious competitors and an even more vicious race car. 

When the light flashed green, Coughlin was away with a .013 reaction, essentially a .025 head start. His yellow Jegs Camaro had enough Gusto to hold off her charge by a 6.584, 210.05 to 6.563, 210.54 margin. 

“You’re honored to be next to people like [Erica Enders],” Coughlin said. “You step it up, you just, you’re focused. You’re trying to crush it. You’re trying to make your very best lap, and we hit it well; we made a nice lap. And here we are talking to you.”

It’s not that Coughlin was having a totally horrible season, but three round wins in the first six events was very “un-Coughlin” like. The win in Epping produced more round wins in one day than the whole season. 

“It puts us back in relevant discussion as far as points goes,” Coughlin said. “It moves us up a little bit, puts the spirits up a little bit. Gosh, it moves your confidence up. The guys in the engine shop, their spirits are up. It does a ton, that’s for certain. There’s so many races. It’s huge in the Countdown. You really just need a lot of focus. You take it one race at a time; you take it one lap at a time.”

Though Coughlin has yet to win an NHRA Pro Stock championship, he witnessed his Uncle Jeggie win multiples. 

“Just to win a championship in Pro Stock is just intense,” Coughlin explained. “It’s insane. Ask Erica, Greg [Anderson], Jeg, and any of them. It’s intense. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of mental work, and I think that’s fun. I think chasing that. If I were to stop racing today, knowing that I chased it is cool because it’s that challenging. It’s extremely tough. It’s exciting just to be out here.”




Sunday’s victory in Epping marked Coughlin’s first win of any type in Epping and his fifth in Pro Stock following brief stints in Top Fuel and Pro Modified. On the other side of the coin, Enders remains stuck at 49 career NHRA victories. 

Coughlin’s road to victory lane included wins over Brandon Miller, Aaron Stanfield, and then Saturday’s Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty winner Dallas Glenn. 

“Dallas Glenn has been on a roll and just an awesome driver,” Coughlin said. “He doesn’t need any introduction. And we just skated by and was .036 against him. Got lucky with him missing it. He was .40, and I wasn’t my best all day today. Like I said, I was just kind of getting by.”

When you’re in a drought, and the good fortunes begin falling your way, it tends to get one emotional. 

“You’re essentially racing yourself, to be honest,” Coughlin said. “But you do need to be your very best against essentially everybody because everybody’s extremely talented. Erica’s fast; she hits the tree well. She knows when she needs to hit the tree well, and she actually knows how to hit it well when she needs to hit it well.

“You just, when you’re at home, and you’re not racing, and you practice every week on a simulator, you’re asking nothing more of yourself than you do each week. You’re just, you’re hitting it again. Hit it again. Hit the tree. But you just want to hit it a little better this run. You’re essentially racing yourself. You just want to crush it a little better this time. And when you’re running a champion like Erica, and it’s an honor to race somebody like her.”

And it’s also an honor when a plan comes together. Just ask Coughlin.