Columbus Pro Stock Truck Preview

COUGHLIN FINDS HIS GROOVE IN TOUGH PRO STOCK TRUCK CATEGORY KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio -- Last year one driver dominated NHRA Pro Stock Truck competition. This year one manufacturer is stealing all the headlines. One of the latest...

COUGHLIN FINDS HIS GROOVE IN TOUGH PRO STOCK TRUCK CATEGORY KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio -- Last year one driver dominated NHRA Pro Stock Truck competition. This year one manufacturer is stealing all the headlines. One of the latest Chevrolet S-10 drivers to lead a Pro Stock Truck victory parade comes from one of the best-known racing families in NHRA competition. Mike Coughlin, driver of the Jeg's Mail Order Chevy S-10, ended a decade-and-a-half's worth of frustration with his national event victory at Englishtown, N.J. The Columbus, Ohio resident was one of NHRA's most versatile sportsman category competitors before deciding to join the Pro Stock Truck ranks this season. "It's pretty neat," said Coughlin, who defeated fellow Chevy driver Tim Freeman in a photo-finish. "I have always wanted it, this is my 14th year in NHRA racing and I've been trying at least that long, so it feels pretty good. It's something I've always dreamed of, hopefully we can get some more." Coughlin, who joins Mark Osborne, Brad Jeter, Randy Daniels and Bob Panella as 1999 Pro Stock Truck winners, says his team has made major strides toward joining the elite in the category. "Our engine development program is starting to turn around," said Coughlin, 33, who will be a local favorite at the 35th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing, June 10-13, at National Trail Raceway. The $1.5 million race is the 10th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. "We are not running the big speeds like some of the guys are, but we are getting closer," Coughlin added. "I have been working real hard focusing on driving and trying to have good reaction times and that's what it takes. Sometimes you can run slower and win. There are a lot of factors involved and that's one of them. That's something I can control and I've been working real hard on it." It's the type of dedication that's necessary in a category that features so many talented drivers. "Racing against guys the caliber we race against is tough, you have to be on your game," Coughlin said. "They're all good, there are not many of them who can't do the job, that's for sure. There's a lot of different people in this class who come from backgrounds where they raced a lot of different types of vehicles, whether it's dragster, full-bodied cars or roadsters. I think the guys we have in Pro Stock Truck are as good as anybody out there." And on that afternoon in Englishtown, N.J., Coughlin was better than all of them. He says he will always remember his first victory. "I could see just a little bit of (Freeman) out of my peripheral vision," Coughlin said. "I could just see the tip of his (truck's) nose. I felt I was ahead of him, it kind of appeared that way. I tried to hang on as long as possible. When the win light came on I knew it had to be literally inches. It was probably three or four inches, it was snug." * Close Competition: Tim Freeman, driver of the Bluegrass Transportation Chevy S-10 and a driver expected to challenge for the Winston championship, is still looking for his first victory of the season. Mike Coughlin defeated Freeman in his only final round appearance this season. A winner in his debut race one year ago in Madison, Ill., Freeman welcomes the increased competition. "It's not frustrating, it's exciting, I can't wait to go again," Freeman said. "This is what it's all about. Last year (Larry) Kopp had the field covered. This year it's definitely much tougher racing."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Brad Jeter , Randy Daniels , Mike Coughlin , Tim Freeman