Mike Coughlin locks up coveted JEGS Allstars berth
NORWALK, Ohio (May 20) – Following a quarterfinal finish in this weekend’s B’Laster Cavalcade of Stars event in Norwalk, Ohio, Mike Coughlin has officially earned his spot as the Top Sportsman representative for the North Central Division JEGS Allstars team.
Coughlin entered the event with a two-round lead in the standings and maintained his edge by advancing to the third round of eliminations with his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt. Despite a tough loss there, Coughlin was able to celebrate a few moments later when John Scali and Ricky Adkins, the last two drivers who could catch him, were also eliminated.
"I would love to have won this race but I really wanted to make sure I got into the JEGS Allstars and we did that. Now, I can make my plans for Joliet," Coughlin said. "It was pretty intense there for a while. After I lost, I opened the door and I could hear [NHRA announcer Leo Taugher] say that John Scali had red-lighted. Then I watched Ricky Adkins get beat and I knew it was a done deal. I haven’t raced in the JEGS Allstars in 15 years and I’m excited to go back. It’s such an honor just to make the team."
Coughlin last qualified for the JEGS Allstars event in the Super Comp class in 1997. He also was an Allstars representative in 1990 and both times, he finished as a runner-up. Coughlin will now be able to join his North Central Division teammates as they compete for team and individual honors at the JEGS Allstars event, which will be held on June 30 during the O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill.
After qualifying eighth in the quick Top Sportsman field, Coughlin raced to the third round where he lost an extremely close tilt against Stephen Brinegar. Although Coughlin was slightly quicker off the starting line with a .017 to .027-second reaction time advantage, Brinegar was able to run closer to his dial-in time, winning the race by just .001-second at the finish line.
"I had him covered and I gave it away," Coughlin said. "It was just one of those things. My car was perfect and I thought I did a good job driving. I just made a small mistake and it cost me. I had hoped to do a little better this weekend but we got the Allstars [berth] wrapped up and that was the most important thing."
Teammate Samantha Coughlin, Mike's sister-in-law, also lost a heartbreakingly close race in her JEGS.com dragster. Coming off a strong finish at the recent Lucas Oil Series event in Indianapolis, Samantha drove to the fourth round of competition before losing to Glen Ginn by just .002 seconds. Samantha also had the quicker reaction time, .011 to .032, but ran just an 8.935 to Ginn’s 8.912.
"I’m bummed," Samantha said. "I usually don’t get to upset but I may have lost my composure for a few minutes after that one. Going down the track, I told myself to stay in it but I ripped the throttle and gave it away by two-thousandths. We were side-by-side and I knew what to do but I just didn’t listen to myself."
Though disappointed by the loss, it didn’t take long for Samantha to find a silver lining as she continues to be one of the leading contenders for the Division 3 Super Comp title.
"On the bright side, going to the fourth round is not too bad," Samantha said. "We scored some points and the car was flawless all weekend. I just need to learn to trust it and we’ll be in good shape.