At the start of the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, Troy Coughlin faced long odds of winning the Pro Mod championship. He was behind by three rounds and made the ultimate gamble of switching to a brand-new race car. Considering the race was in Las Vegas, there was no better place for Troy to overcome those odds and win his first ever NHRA championship. Like a gambler on a roll, things just kept falling into place for Troy all weekend long and he wound up winning the title by the slimmest of margins.
“They told me we won the championship by three points,” Coughlin said. “That’s just a ‘wow’ thought. How hard did we work for each of those points? How many ups and downs were there? It’s just crazy to have it end up so close, especially when we’re here on the good side of the equation. I’m pumped.”
“We came into this race with a brand-new car. We tested here with it a week ago and it was running well so we decided to enter it in the race. Of course, everyone else said we were crazy, but Steve Petty (crew chief) and all the guys worked so hard to give me a perfect car and, bottom line, it’s so much easier to drive than anything I’ve had in the past. It worked perfectly all weekend and we needed every bit of it to get this title.”
Every racer competing for a championship strives to be able to control their own destiny. For Troy, that is exactly what happened. Steve Petty tuned the brand new Jegs.com twin turbo Chevy Corvette to a third place qualifying position, while points leader place Mike Castellana wound up sixth which would mean a potential second round matchup between them. With second place driver Rickie Smith qualifying on the opposite side of the ladder, Troy knew that the championship was his no matter what if he won the race. After disposing of Mike Janis in the first round on Saturday evening, Troy would face a huge matchup with Mike Castellana on Sunday morning.
“We approached Sunday thinking, ‘Let’s just run the best that we can without over-powering the track and giving it away,’” Coughlin said. “We just focused on cutting good lights, making laps and turning on win lights.”
With pressure at its highest, Coughlin calmly responded with a huge, half-a-second victory over Castellana, then made light work of a red-lighting Danny Rowe and an out-of-shape Don Walsh to win the title. When Troy’s win light came on in the finals, it marked the seventh national championship for the Coughlin family, and it brought the total number of family championships to 13 (includes division championships) .
“My brother Jeg started this deal where each of (the four Coughlin brothers) have rings with a stone in it for each national championship we’ve won,” Coughlin said. “I added one in 2009 when I won the NMCA Pro Street title and now this one, combined with the five Jeg has won, will put us up to seven stones. It’s just incredible to think about it. To be a piece of the history of JEGS Racing, considering the guys I’m racing with, is pretty awesome.”