Pro Mod champ Troy Coughlin Sr. tips his cap after first-round loss in Charlotte

Pro Mod champ Troy Coughlin Sr. tips his cap after first-round loss in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE (Sept. 17) — All Pro Mod driver Troy Coughlin Sr. could do was tip his cap after losing in the first round of the J&A Service Pro Mod Series race presented by the Real Pro Mod Association during the NHRA Carolinas Nationals on Saturday at zMax Dragway. His opponent, Mike Castellana, had a slightly better reaction time and pass to advance to the second round.

“We drew a tough race in the first round against Castellana,” Coughlin said. “He made a decent run in qualifying and had a great first round. What can you say? They got it done a little bit quicker.”

Castellana, the No. 10 qualifier, left first with a stellar .023-second reaction time and a pass of 5.861 seconds at 246.84 mph. That was .028-second quicker than his qualifying run.

Coughlin, meanwhile, had a .060 light and made a run of 5.874 seconds at 252.19 mph to fall .051-second short at the finish line.

Coughlin’s first-round exit comes a race after an outstanding performance two weeks ago at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, where he qualified No. 1 and raced to the final round.

But after a tough start to qualifying in Charlotte, Coughlin and his team rebounded to speed to the top half of the field.

“We got behind the eight ball a little bit in qualifying but we bounced back pretty well,” said Coughlin, who had qualified No. 7 earlier in the day. “We’re one of those five-star teams that we’ve talked about in years past. We’re a championship-caliber team and we’ve proven it. We’re making good strides.”

Coughlin nearly got a gift when points leader Rickie Smith was late on the starting line against Jay Payne, but Smith survived to advance to the second round. That won’t stop Coughlin and his team’s determination to take the points battle as far as they can. Coughlin, the defending Pro Mod champ, was second in points heading into Charlotte.

“It’s not over yet,” Coughlin said. “Our team here does not think it’s over, not until mathematically it won’t work. Mathematically it still does work, so we’re going to keep racing this thing as hard as we did even if we were in fifth place.

“We’ve got a hot rod. It’s a good car; it’s ready to go to St. Louis. Just a little bit of cleanup and stick it back in line, as they say, and try again.”

Coughlin’s younger brother Mike suffered a similar fate in Top Dragster, as his car also lost in the first round. Mike, the No. 1 qualifier, fell in a double-breakout race against Bob Mandell III. Mike’s breakout was a touch more, .021- to .010-second, dropping a close race.