Troy Coughlin Jr. had another spectacular final-four showing Sunday at the Texas NHRA FallNationals, upsetting higher-qualified Pro Stock racers Kyle Koretsky and Rodger Brogdon to reach the semifinals of the season’s third-to-last race.
“We were close,” Coughlin said of his glimpse at reaching the finals. “We stepped on a banana peel about 70 feet down the racetrack and ended up losing traction, and that was the end of it. But I still feel awfully proud of this team and this group of guys.”
That hypothetical banana peel showed up during Coughlin’s semifinal race with points leader Greg Anderson, which had started off with a huge .028 head-start recorded by Coughlin. Had his JEGS.com Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro not lost traction, a strong case could be made that Coughlin would have reached his third final round of the year. Anderson went on to post a beatable 6.666 at 205.51 mph.
“We always try to put our best foot forward, no matter who is in the other lane, but obviously beating Greg would have been helped my teammate (Erica Enders) get closer to a fifth world championship,” Coughlin said, “and It definitely hurts when things like that happen. We did what we thought we needed to do to win. It just didn’t hold this time.”
Enders entered the race within one round of Anderson’s lead but she lost in Round 2 earlier in the day, giving Anderson a little breathing room in the standings.
Coughlin had been cruising up until his race against Anderson. After uncharacteristically qualifying in the bottom half of the field — just the second time this year that’s happened — he overpowered first-round opponent Kyle Koretsky with a 6.636 at 205.38 mph to Koretsky’s 6.664 at 205.82 mph.
In Round 2, veteran Rodger Brogdon was in the other lane, but he shook his tires early in the run, allowing Coughlin to zip away to a 6.652 at 205.38 mph, a pass that was quick enough to earn Team JEGS lane choice in the semifinals.
“We made some great runs today,” Coughlin said. “These guys — Mark Ingersoll (crew chief), Steven Hurley, Eric Luzinski, Kyle Bates and Kelly Murphy — fill me with so much confidence. It’s a great feeling to know they’re behind me.
“I think we can all walk outta here with a lot to be proud of. There are two races left, Las Vegas and Pomona (Calif.), and we’re going to do everything we can to win them both.”
The 21st annual Dodge NHRA Nationals take place Oct. 29-31 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.