Troy Coughlin Jr. stepped away from his Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel Dragster ride in August 2017. He was replaced by Richie Crampton.
The young Coughlin Jr. partnered with the Pennsylvania-based McPhillips Racing Top Alcohol Dragster team in 2018. Rich McPhillips departed the drivers seat for Coughlin Jr. to receive seat time.
“It’s been an absolute honor to learn from big Rich Sr. just driving in general,” he said. “It has made it as awesome as possible getting used to a new team — different routines, especially warm up routines — obviously with the differences in the two types of cars in the class of A/Fuel and Top Fuel just the way things work. It’s a little bit different, but once you get adjusted, it’s like anything. I enjoy the sport so much that I try to enjoy every lap — and let the joy overlap the nerves.”
Coughlin Jr. — who is the son of three-time Pro Mod champion Troy Coughlin — admitted that it did not take him long to adjust to the Top Alcohol Dragster. In fact, he said he only needed three passes.
“With Rich, Rickie and all the guys of the McPhillips Racing team, they really run their operation with a fine-tooth comb,” Coughlin Jr. added. “It’s very smooth. Everything is always checked. They have made it great with the tune up not being on complete kill all the time. Everything in the car is square and checked upon. Big Rich is really meticulous — it’s one of his favorite toys, so to speak. They take it so serious, but they’re so professional. Really, it’s the ultimate program to be with if you want to compete for a national championship.”
He also said that partnering with Rich McPhillips was one of the reasons why he chose the McPhillips Racing team. He is a former driver, who is now a tuner when Coughlin Jr. Is in the car.
“One of the reasons we chose McPhillips is because he is a former driver,” he said. “Just look at his resume. He has also built everything under the sun — and built a lot of it himself. To team with someone with that passion, who is so into it, teaching for him is so much more important than driving. I’m the luckiest kid in the pits, because his driving instruction has helped me a ton. We have talked about pedaling, vision down track, using the hand brake when needed — they’re so fun to race with. We’re all so competitive, because we all want to go out there and win.”
The 28-year-old Delaware, Ohio native won three Top Alcohol Dragster Divisionals in 2018. He also won the Dodge NHRA Nationals event at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania last Sept.
The Divisionals he won were at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio; Cecil County Dragway in Rising Sun, Maryland; and Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
“I think once you win whether it be a national or regional, it’s so exciting to your mindset,” he said. “You really want to keep winning. It really entices you to drive better to win and drive harder. The excitement factor is enough motivation, because once you win, you want to keep winning. By winning, it keeps everyone’s mindset in the right place — and everything comes together.”
In the national Top Alcohol Dragster standings, Coughlin Jr. is presently third. Presently, Shawn Cowie — who won the recent Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals — is now the points leader with 647 points.
Megan Meyer is presently second with 573 points. Coughlin Jr. is third with 552. He is 95 points behind Cowie, while he is just 21 points behind Meyer.
“I think we’ve done extremely well so far,” Coughlin Jr. said. “We’ve had a great start, but at the same time, there’s a lot of great competitors out there, and we’re running with them. I didn’t have any expectations this season, as I believe expectations usually lead to disappointment. I’m going to go to the starting line with the best mindset and the my best foot forward. Rich does also, as he goes up there with the best possible car that he deems for the track and the atmosphere — the weather — and we’re taking it one run at a time. We’re enjoying our time out there together as a team and we’re building. We’re constantly building. We’re constantly in a place of evolution.”
“We’re always trying different ways to run the car. I’m also trying my foot on different spots on the pedal. I’m also trying different mental things to keep me relaxed. I’ve done a lot of cognitive exercises in the off-season as well as vision therapy.”
Through four events in the Northeast Region, Coughlin Jr. is presently second with 256 points. Josh Hart leads with 298 points, which is 42 points more than Coughlin Jr.
This past Saturday night, Coughlin Jr. defeated Hart in the final round at Atco Dragway in Atco, New Jersey to win the Divisional Wally.
“Racing in the East Region is awesome,” Coughlin Jr. said. “With A/Fuel, there are so many cars and they’re only taking eight cars. It’s extremely competitive, because you have Jackie [Fricke], Josh [Hart], Duane Shields — those are names so prominent in the entire class. It’s tough racing with them, because you’re on your toes 24/7. Having great competitors is a wonderful thing. The people you surround yourself with is a big dictation of where you’re going to go.”
Coughlin Jr. is planning to attend six national events through the rest of the season. He is also planning to attend two more Lucas Oil events at Beech Bend Raceway Park at the end of August and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in October.
“We’re going to go up there with the best car possible,” he said. “For me, I’m going to go up there with a clean doubt-free mindset. I want to club the tree, then go A to B. Hopefully, at the end of the event, we’re smiling.”
While Coughlin Jr. is driving Top Alcohol Dragster for McPhillips Racing, he is also on a mission to find funding to move back into a Top Fuel Dragster. It takes millions and the right sponsor to join the NHRA Top Fuel ranks.
“I haven’t put a timetable on anything,” Coughlin Jr. said. “I am searching for funding to run a Top Fuel Dragster again. I enjoy every lap, every race. As far as McPhillips Racing goes, I’ll always be a part of it somehow, because not only are these the guys, who I drive for, but they’re my friends. They’re great people. They work extremely hard — Rich and his boys is second to none. It’s also been a great example for me. I’m growing in this sport with some great people. It’s great to surround myself with great people, like the McPhillips.
“Absolutely, it takes time. There’s a lot of different things that drag racing has to offer marketing wise. We’re getting that out to a lot of companies. We’re trying to start a partnership to hoop back into a 10,000 horsepower Top Fuel Dragster.”
Coughlin Jr. has been working on this project since he stepped out of the Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel Dragster.
“Since the very next day after I stepped back from the Kalitta car,” he said. “We’ll have an associate presence and JEGS has been involved in the drag racing experience for so long that we’re looking to branch out and reinvest in our company. It’s not feasible to have an all-JEGS Top Fuel car. I fell like doing that would hurt our marketing efforts, which as a result would hurt the customers of JEGS.
“If I could, I would like to do it soon. It depends on how we do with the funding search. I’m taking it one day at a time. I’ve learned a ton by marketing itself while on this project. It’s a lot of passion.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019