BRISTOL, Tenn. — The last time Troy Coughlin won an event at Bristol Dragway he was awarded the largest cash prize of his career. This time through, the world champion drag racer would be happy with a simple little statue — the special-edition 60th anniversary pewter Wally awarded to the winner of the Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series event to be held in conjunction with this weekend’s Ford Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals.
“We won the Winston Showdown and earned $50,000,” Coughlin said of his Y2K triumph in Pro Stock. “That was a cool deal, for sure, but that was more than 10 years ago. It’s time to make some new Bristol memories and winning our first Pro Mod race of the season and getting one of those rare Wallys would be very special.”
Racing crew chief Jake Hairston’s twin turbocharged 2008 Pontiac GTO until his new car is ready, Troy has become a bit of a cult hero on tour this year as he pits his small block machine up against the giant motor combinations of his rivals. But after posting a few competitive 5.9-second passes, he’s become more than just a sideshow.
“We’re not the car people are pointing to as a favorite each weekend, for sure,” he said. “We’re more of a sleeper, especially after seeing those bigger turbo cars set world records last time out. But if we can run to our potential and not make any mistakes, we have a chance. That’s really all you can ask for as a driver.
“At the very least, we’ve learned so much that will translate over to our new car when it’s ready. We should have it out very soon and by all indications we can hit the ground running when it’s finished.
“One thing I am very excited about is returning to Bristol. Not only do we have some great memories from that track, it’s one of the prettiest places we visit all year. Bruton Smith always outdoes everyone else and this track certainly shines as one of the premier drag strips in the world.”
Qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals gets underway at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Friday. Qualifying continues at noon Saturday, and will be followed by a Fan Fest in the pits immediately following the final round of qualifying. Sunday’s eliminations get underway at noon.