delgazette.com

10th anniversary of Comics for the Cure

June 30, 2011

NORWALK — With two consecutive wins and a commanding lead in the Division 3 Top Sportsman standings, Mike Coughlin is as hot as a firecracker in his JEGS.com hot rod. Now, the two-time D3 champion is looking to make more fireworks as he heads to northwest Ohio for the resumption of last months’ rain-delayed B’Laster Cavalcade of Stars Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event.

Coughlin, the 2007 and 2009 NHRA Division 3 Top Sportsman champion, is off to an outstanding start to his ‘11 season, banking wins in Indianapolis and Joliet. His JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt is undefeated in 10 straight elimination rounds and he’s anxious to add to that total this weekend.

“So far, I don’t have a lot to complain about this season,” Coughlin said. “We’ve won the last two races and everything is going better than I had expected. Thanks to my team, including my father Jeg Sr., and our crew guys, Greg Cody and Tony Collier, our JEGS.com Cobalt has been very consistent this year and I’ve been able to focus almost 100-percent on my driving.

“There was an NHRA national event in Norwalk last weekend, which means the track should be even better than it was the first time we raced there. It’s normally very good anyway. Traditionally, I personally haven’t had a lot of success there, but I’m hoping that’s going to change.”

When qualifying was halted by persistent rain on May 14, Top Sportsman competitors have completed two qualifying runs and Coughlin was fourth in the 32-car field with a 6.84-second run at more than 205 mph. When the race resumes this weekend, teams will get one more qualifying run, where Coughlin believes he’ll be able to improve his position.

“If the weather cooperates, we should run in the 6.7s at close to 210 mph,” he said. “We get one additional qualifying run Sunday morning before we go straight into eliminations and that should tell us everything we need to know about the car and the track. No matter where we end up qualifying, we just want to make a good run in order to give us a good baseline for eliminations. The only change we made to the car was to put on a new set of rear slicks so we should be able to pick up right where we left off.”

Although Coughlin holds the top spot in the Division 3 points standings, he’s been racing long enough to know that no lead is safe and there is always the potential for something unexpected to happen. However, he also knows that with a strong showing in Norwalk, he could put a virtual hammerlock on a third title.

“I’m not even thinking about the championship right now,” Coughlin said. “We still have a lot of racing left to do. That being said, we are riding a lot of momentum and if we can keep that up, I’ll feel really good about our chances.”