Year in Review John Coughlin
John Coughlin rallies to win Top Dragster title
DELAWARE, Ohio (Dec 7) -- With two victories and his second Division 3 Top Dragster championship in the last three years, John Coughlin is quick to label 2009 as one of the most successful seasons of his career.
Coughlin began the season with a new dragster that carried him to numerous personal bests in the six-second zone at more than 200 mph and ended it with a thrilling victory in Las Vegas, a must-win event that secured the championship.
"Coming into this season, my goal was to win another championship," Coughlin said. "Last winter we made a lot of changes in order to make my car faster and it was. I went from running 7.20s to 6.70s; that's a big difference. It took me a while to get used to the speeds I was running but we managed to get lucky and win a few races. A couple of times, I wasn't sure if we'd be able to pull off the championship, but it happened."
Shortly after debuting his new JEGS Mail Order dragster in the Spitzer Race Cars Top Dragster class, Coughlin drove the car to its first victory at the North Central Division Lucas Oil Series race at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago. Following several other strong performances, he was able to grab the early points lead and maintain it well into the summer months.
But just when he appeared to be nearing the title, fellow competitor Bob Cireddu nearly snatched it away with a clutch runner-up result at the Pennsylvania Dutch Classic event in Reading, Pa., that pushed him into the lead. Cireddu's second-place finish in Reading left Coughlin with few options. The only way he could reclaim the title was to venture west to the final Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series race of the season at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and grab a victory, which is exactly what happened. Driving perhaps the best race of his life, Coughlin shined in Las Vegas, clinching the title by a scant 11 points.
"I had a pretty good lead and then just like that I was in second place," Coughlin said. "To make matters worse, we were also having some issues with the car so the whole ordeal was pretty nerve wracking. When I won the race in Las Vegas I was so excited. My wife Diana and our kids, Cody and Kennedi, were there, which meant so much to me. We flew home that night and I don't think I slept at all."
In addition to his successful season in Top Dragster, John also raced in Super Stock with his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt. While he was a perennial low qualifier, he was not able to put together a victory despite several strong late-round finishes.
"The Super Stock car threw me for a bit of a loop this season," Coughlin said. "At some races I did really well but at others, I was really bad. We really didn't have any issues with the car, things just never managed to fall my way."
Coughlin's Top Dragster championship was one of many bright spots for the JEGS team in 2009. His brother Troy won his first series championship in the NMCA Pro Street division while brother Mike won also his second title in the last three years in the Dart Top Sportsman Series. Younger brother Jeg Coughlin Jr. also enjoyed a successful season in NHRA Pro Stock competition, winning seven races, the most of any NHRA pro driver. Even John's nephew, 19-year old Troy Coughlin Jr., got into the act, winning his first national event title in the Super Comp class late in the season. Not to be outdone, John's 13-year old son Cody won his first championship in the USAC Generation Next .25 Midget class.
"The whole season for our entire team was one a big roller coaster ride with a storybook ending," John said. "I'm just happy I was able to do my part."
JOHN COUGHLIN 2009 FACTS
Won the North Central Division Spitzer Race Cars Top Dragster Series championship
Claimed a pair of Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series victories in Joliet, Ill., and Las Vegas.
Posted an 11th place finish in North Central Division Super Stock competition with his JEGS.com Cobalt
Quote book: "At first I had a big [points] lead, then a little lead and then no lead at all. I had to come from behind to win this championship and it wasn't easy." -- John Coughlin
-credit: team jegs