BRISTOL — Troy Coughlin has a definite opinion where the annual visit to Bristol Dragway ranks on the NHRA circuit.
To him, it belongs at the very top.
The Pro Mod driver sees the Thunder Valley Nationals as a premier event, ahead of such races as the Gatornationals and NHRA Finals and on the same par as the U.S. Nationals.
“In my opinion, it ranks higher than Gainesville and it’s on the same level as Indy,” Coughlin said during testing last week. “Indy is the cat’s meow as they say. It’s NASCAR country here in Bristol, but you have all the history of NHRA, IHRA, all the stuff going up to the Carrier days. It ranks pretty high here.”
In fact, the 49-year-old Ohio driver counts winning a $50,000 bonus for a Pro Stock victory in the old Winston Showdown at Bristol right up there with a Super Gas win at the U.S. Nationals among the top victories of his entire career.
The 2012 NHRA Pro Mod champion and older brother of five-time World Champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. hit another milestone last season at Las Vegas with the family’s 100th career victory over nine professional categories — Pro Stock, Pro Stock Truck, Pro Mod, Comp, Super Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Top Sportsman and Top Dragster. He simply wants to add to that win total this weekend at a track where the family has shared so many memories.
Less than a month ago, Troy’s son raced at the K&N Spring Fling bracket race. Seven years ago, Jeg Jr. added his name alongside Troy as a Bristol Pro Stock winner.
“I love racing up here in the mountains,” Coughlin said. “We were runner-up last year and got to the semifinals the year before that. We had good success in the Pro Stock days. It’s a fun place to race.
“I remember coming here as a kid when my oldest brother, John, raced here. You could hear the echoes off the mountain and you saw the NASCAR track. There is just something about the groove of the track, the setting, there’s just something about Bristol that is really cool.”
In preparation for this weekend’s Thunder Valley Nationals, Troy was working on suspension parts and getting the car set-up for the race with crew chief Steve Petty during the test session. With the way the competition is, one has to be close and then do more fine tuning during race weekend.
His Pro Mod Corvette can be a handful at times. It has a 511 cubic-inch motor with twin turbochargers on it. With the fuel-injection system, the engine makes around 3,500 horsepower. His car is actually much faster than the Pro Stock car which Jeg Jr. drives, and Troy owns the family’s speed record, making a pass at 255.82 mph in his Pro Mod car in 2011.
Beyond the NHRA sanction, the 26-year racing veteran is a former NMCA Pro Street World Champion and a winner of the PSCA Street Cup Super Nationals. He is also an accomplished bracket racer, which he explained keeps him sharp for racing the Pro Mod car.
“The turbo car is so different from a bracket car,” he said. “You have a couple of buttons you’re pushing all the time, you’re pushing the gas and brakes at the same time as you’re trying to consistently stage and run the same e.t. all the time. The bracket racing gives you seat time and keeps you sharp on the tree. But the way you pay attention to the car beside you, they both go hand-in-hand.”comments powered by Disqus