Memphis: Mike Coughlin, S-10 win

MIKE COUGHLIN, JEG'S MAIL ORDER CHEVY S-10, won his first title of the season, in an all-Chevy S-10 final round against STEVE JOHNS, CASTROL SUPER CLEAN CHEVY S-10. Coughlin's 7.473-second elapsed time at 179.11 with a .423 reaction time was...

MIKE COUGHLIN, JEG'S MAIL ORDER CHEVY S-10, won his first title of the season, in an all-Chevy S-10 final round against STEVE JOHNS, CASTROL SUPER CLEAN CHEVY S-10. Coughlin's 7.473-second elapsed time at 179.11 with a .423 reaction time was moot, as Johns red-lighted with a .299 reaction time (.400 is perfect). This was Mike's first win of the season, his second final-round appearance and his first win since the U.S. Nationals in September, 1999.

Johns has won one title in Pro Stock Truck in only his third professional start, claiming last year's Finals in Pomona, Calif., by beating reigning Winston Champion and current points leader Bob Panella Jr. in the final. He's the 1992 NHRA World Champion in Competition Eliminator.

COUGHLIN: ON BEATING JOHNS: "He's won races before. He knows how to drive, that's for sure. He's a World Champion in his own right. And he's the right-hand man to Bill 'Grumpy' Jenkins (famed engine builder) and you know they know how to make horsepower. I had to be on the top of my game on that win. I didn't know he had red-lighted, honestly, until I received my time slip. I knew that he wasn't there when I got to the finish line. I was busy shifting and steering and it was shaking through the gears pretty good. I was trying to keep it as straight as I could and try to get it to the other end and see what happens." IS THE PANELLA AND DANIELS DOMINATION OVER? "I don't know that it's over. Randy's and Bobby's teams are just unbelievable. We have been working extra hard to try to get back to where we thought we need to be. I think our hard work is paying off. I'm not saying anything against the teams -- we have the quickest field in history here -- it's a feather in our cap just to win it." DID YOU MAKE CHANGES TODAY? "We didn't change a whole lot today. We just maintained what we had. We have been playing with suspension quite a bit. When we went to Topeka we were not on top of the 60-foot class. We were kind of average. We had a plan to try to get that better. We had plenty of power, but it was a case of maintaining the engines, making them last, not breaking anything. We didn't have a lot of spare parts." ON WINNING: "I'm glad I'm back in the winner's circle. It's been a little over a year now. I got to the final round in Richmond and got beat by Randy (Daniels) by three thousandths of a second."

JOHNS: ON GETTING TO THE FINAL ROUND: "That wasn't so bad." ON REDLIGHTING: "That was driver error. I'm not going to blame it on the clutch or the throw-out bearing or the crew chief. The driver had an error in the semifinal and tried to fix it, but came up with a worse error. My light was slower, (.461, compared to a .439 in the first round, and a .429 in the second) and I blamed myself for doing something wrong, and came up way wrong in the final." ON THE WEEKEND IN GENERAL: "I feel good overall. It's good for the team (to make the final), it's good for Castrol, it's good for Chevy. We're kind of rebuilding over here again with personnel and crew chiefs. If we can get some people to stay here it will be a pretty good deal."

RANDY DANIELS, BAILEY TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, has been battling a bad cold this weekend, as well as gremlins in his Chevy S-10. What started out to be a good weekend with the news that dad and crew chief Garley Daniels would be released Wednesday from Cleveland (Ohio) Medical Center following successful treatment for an irregular heartbeat, turned into a dismal one on the race track. Daniels appeared to have the potential to set a new elapsed time national record after three solid qualifying rounds, until a rear ring-and-pinion failed in final qualifying. He landed in sixth position with a 7.499/179.30 qualifying pass.

Randy then found himself on the sidelines in the first round, as he was defeated by TAYLOR LASTOR'S CHEVY S-10. Daniels had the edge at the Christmas Tree with a .459 reaction time to Lastor's .461, but it was Lastor at the finish stripe with a 7.461/178.71 win to Daniels' 7.499/179.30.

DANIELS: "We had about identical reaction times, but our S-10 just wouldn't run. We had a clutch that's messed up. It wasn't responding to the changes we were making to it. It's got a coating on it that's gone. The coating allows the clutch to last longer supposedly. I guess I ran it too long. When everything is working you don't want to change the truck a whole lot. That's what happened to us yesterday morning. The first two days we qualified pretty good, but it just started getting away from us and we couldn't get a handle on it. First, we were too light on the clutch yesterday morning; we gave it a little extra, then broke the rear-end. We weren't able to find out if it worked."

GREG STANFIELD, DBP ENTERPRISES CHEVY S-10, parlayed track experience and a good combination into a No. 1 qualifying position and national and track elapsed time and top speed records of 7.443/108.52 before eliminations. He defeated BRIAN SELF'S CHEVY S-10 in the first round, then found himself facing Bob Panella Jr. in the second.

BOB PANELLA JR., PANELLA TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, advanced to the semifinal round after first defeating MARK WHISNANT'S CHEVY S-10 with a national top speed record-setting lap of 7.428 seconds at 179.49 mph, then No. 1 qualifier Stanfield in the second round. Panella was on an elapsed time tear, posting another outstanding elapsed time of 7.432 seconds to eliminate Stanfield (7.455/180.65). Stanfield still holds the top speed record of 180.69 mph.

STANFIELD: "We were in the wrong lane at the wrong time. We made a bad run in the first round (7.443/180.52 against Brian Self -- not all that bad, but Panella's 7.428/179.49 against Whisnant was better) and it cost us lane choice. The horseshoe is still in his (Panella's) pit area, but I'm going to take it away sooner or later. I've been doing this long enough. I know it comes and goes. The speed looks good. What we lack over here is the experience they have over there. And that's (Panella's crew chief) Mike Stryker. Obviously the man knows what he is doing. That's why he gets paid the big bucks. We have been making consistent runs, but when you don't race on race day every weekend -- we have been getting beat in the first round -- you lose. The only way you get to know what to do on race day (with setup) is from experience. They win nearly every race they go to. They get a lot of data on race day. They know things change and they're ready for them. Over here we are a little wet behind the ears. As long as Bart Price (team owner) wants to do this, we are not going to give up. They're not going to wear us out; we will wear them out. We've got to kind of lick our wounds. I see good things happening. I'm going to bring my little boy Aaron to Dallas and we'll win. He's five and he's a good luck charm."

Panella's winning streak was broken in the semifinal round, when he lost to MIKE COUGHLIN, JEG'S MAIL ORDER CHEVY S-10, with an uncharacteristic (for today) 7.512-second pass at 179.28 to Coughlin's 7.435/179.42. Always a master at reaction times, Coughlin even out-launched Panella with a .424 to the defending Winston Champion's .444.

PANELLA: "We're going to Cozy Mel's and get us the biggest jugs of Margaritas they have. I don't know what happened. We were a little soft on the clutch in the first round. We gave it a little bit more in the second round. We were comfortable with it. I don't know if the track got better or I shifted too early. Once the clutch breaks loose it won't get back up. I had my work cut out for me. He had a .424 light and went 7.435. I couldn't beat it. I would have had to reset the record to beat him. He did his job, he always does." ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP: "There's still pressure. I'd love to keep the (e.t.) record. That 20 points would come in handy. I just want to keep racing and win rounds, and maintain the margin. Randy (Daniels, his antagonist for the crown) had some hard luck, but it could turn around and hit me any time. I just have to keep my head up and do the best I can do."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Mike Coughlin , Brian Self