Troy Coughlin picturing himself as a title contender in cutthroat Pro Mod class
Drag racer Troy Coughlin is a pretty unassuming guy, preferring to let his JEGS.com Chevrolet Camaro Pro Mod car make all the statements about his team's performance. However, this year the soft-spoken world champion from Delaware, Ohio, can't help but make a bold statement (at least for him) about his chances in the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx, which begins this weekend in Central Florida as part of the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals.
"We have all the ingredients to win the championship," Coughlin said. "I can't think of a reason why we won't be in contention at every race. I believe the team that wins it all will be the one that makes the least amount of mistakes and we have a veteran group over here so we should be in good shape."
The main reason for Coughlin's optimism is the addition of noted crew chief Steve Petty, who joined Team JEGS in the off-season. Petty tuned four of the last five winners on the 2011 tour, posting victories in Bristol, Indianapolis, Charlotte and Las Vegas with a trio of drivers that ran the same turbo combination Coughlin will have this year.
"Steve's one of the best out there and we're glad to have him on board," Coughlin said. "It feels awesome to know we'll be competitive right out of the gate. Last year we didn't come online with this car and the big block turbo configuration until late in the year and we never really caught up to the rest of the gang. That's not the case this season."
Petty and Coughlin recently stretched their legs in a preseason test in Valdosta, Georgia, and posted several competitive runs right out of the trailer.
"The guys rebuilt the car, re-plumbed it and replaced the fuel management system," Coughlin said. "They also built new air intake pipes and these things are a work of art. It looks like something you'd see on a Formula 1 racecar, that's how incredible these things are. My hats off to everyone on the crew. They worked hard.
"Of course we wanted to make sure everything was working properly before Gainesville so we went and tested. I think we made maybe 12-14 passes to half track and everyone was good. We didn't have to abort any of them. I took it out the back on the last pass and we went 5.84 at 249 mph, which was really good for the conditions we had at that track. The cool thing was we weren't really pushing it hard. We were just making runs.
"Now it's time to race and see how we stack up with everyone else. We're excited."
Pro Mod qualifying begins with two sessions at 1:30 and 4 p.m. EST on Friday and will continue with a final session at 11 a.m. Saturday. Sudden-death eliminations are set to start at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and will continue on Sunday.