Author: Coughlin, Troy
Date published: July 30, 2010
Last November, I earned my first NHRA Wally in Las Vegas when I won the Super Comp title in my JEGS.com dragster, and anyone who knows me will tell you that it was the highlight of my young life.
Growing up Coughlin - that is, a member of a large family that eats, sleeps, and breathes drag racing - there was never any doubt that I'd also grow up to be a racer. I never got pushed into it, and I'm sure if I had wanted to do something else my family would have fully supported it, but for me that was never an issue. I had a Jr. Dragster when I was 8, and as soon as I was old enough for a driver's license, it was on to the "big cars" as they call them, and I've never been happier.
My family - including my grandfather, Jeg Coughlin Sr.; my dad, Troy; and my uncles, John, Mike, and Jeg - has driven in just about every class from Top Fuel to Stock, and we've had a lot of success over the years.
When I got the chance to drive a real race car, I decided that Super Comp was where I wanted to be. When I chose Super Comp, I had no illusions about what I was getting into. I know that Super Comp is probably the toughest class there is for a Sportsman driver because you have to be perfect just about every time you turn on the stage light. The way I have it figured, if you can succeed in Super Comp, you should be able to win in just about anything, so I'm gladly willing to keep paying my dues and taking my shot week after week.
Sherman Adcock is one of the best Super Comp and Super Gas racers there is, and he once said, "Racing in the Super classes is like playing rock, paper, scissors: No matter what you do, it could still be wrong."
Somehow, I've always remembered that quote, and the more I race, the more I realize that Sherman was absolutely correct. On some runs, you decide to take the finish line because you believe you'll be safe and end up on a breakout. Other times, you decide to let your opponent have the stripe only to find out that he's above the index, and you gave away a round that you might otherwise have won. To me, it's all part of the learning process that makes a championship-winning driver, and I'm happy to be paying my dues.
Even though I have not won a race this year, I definitely feel like I am a better driver than I was at this time last season. For one, I have gotten used to the competitive atmosphere that exists at NHRA national events and big-money bracket races. I've also made a lot of runs in my JEGS.com Super Comp car, so I'm more comfortable behind the wheel. Now, I'm able to see each race so much more clearly than I used to. It's almost like each race is happening in slow motion. I always used to read about professional athletes who said that everything seemed slow, and now I have an idea of what they're talking about.
As I mentioned, I haven't won a race this year, but I have won some rounds. Currently, I'm ranked No. 8 in the world, and I am fifth in the Division 3 standings. I am also just 11 points out of the lead in the JEGS Allstars points, and I don't have to tell you how much it would mean to me and to our whole family if I could qualify for that race next summer. I realize there is a long way to go, but that would certainly be one of my main goals for the next 11 months.
In my quest to become a better racer and learn as much as I can about driving, racing, and winning, I am lucky because I have a notso- secret weapon: My uncle, Jeg, sits right down the hall from me at JEGS Mail Order, and his door is always open to me. Not that I've counted, but Jeg's office is just 11 footsteps from mine, and I make at least two or three trips a week, sometimes more. Whenever I ask Uncle Jeg a question, I can usually expect a detailed explanation. I try my best to absorb every word that he says, and then I concentrate on taking each lesson and applying it to a realworld situation on the racetrack.
When Jeg was my age, he was already well on his way to his first world championship in Super Gas, so he can definitely relate to where I am in my career right now. Growing up, I was always in awe of my dad and my uncles and my grandfather, and now, to be following in their footsteps is really an honor.
Another guy who I admire a whole bunch is my ace crew man, Kenny Underwood. Kenny is an amazing individual. He has shown me so many different things as far as how the car works and how to fix it when it's broken. He's also one of the world's best bracket racers and has the stats to back it up. We've been traveling together for a while now, and I know I wouldn't be anywhere near as competitive as I am without his influence.
I understand that I'm a lucky kid, and I try my best not to ever take anything for granted. All I can really say is that I am exactly where I want to be in this world right now. There is nothing else I want to do as much as drag race. I played sports when I was in school, and I was horrible. When I first started racing in Jr. Dragsters, I said to myself, 'I can do this.' And now, I believe that more than ever. ND
Troy Coughlin Jr. is the driver of the JEGS.com Super Comp dragster