By David G. Firestone
I’m going to be a little lazy this week. I normally would work on the Tracker and grades over the weekend, but this last weekend was a little bit different. On Saturday, I had a cookout to celebrate my 35th birthday. I had friends and family come over, and we had a great time. On Sunday, I went to the Armenian Festival in Downtown Evanston with a buddy who was visiting from California. Since I was so busy, I never got around, so the Tracker and grades will run next week.
I also wanted to discuss something that happened over the weekend. The NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is taking place this weekend. After the event, the Countdown To The Championship starts, and the top 10 in points will get locked in. At the time of this writing, Troy Coughlin Jr. is 10th in points in Top Fuel. On Saturday, Troy left Kalitta Motorsports, “citing a desire to get more experience in the Top Alcohol Dragster ranks” according to the NHRA’s website.
The timing of this decision could not have been worse. Leaving the team when you are seated 10th in points before the cutoff is shocking. However, the team has signed Richie Crampton to replace Coughlin, so they have upgraded in that respect, and Shawn Langdon, another Kalitta Motorsports driver is 11th in points, so he will certainly make the Countdown. So the damage isn’t as bad as it could be.
I found it a little odd that Coughlin was signed from Pro Mod to Top Fuel. Coughlin’s a good driver, but he didn’t take to the class well at all. He was complaining about a lack of seat time during his early runs. He certainly wasn’t going to be a contender right out of the gate, which is something you want in a driver. He also wasn’t going to win Rookie of the Year, that is certainly going to Tanner Gray. This whole thing just wasn’t well thought out.
Why Coughlin didn’t race in Top Alcohol Dragster is odd, given that he could have run a few events just to get some seat time to learn how different a dragster is from a doorslammer. Why this didn’t happen is mystifying. There are a number of questions that don’t have answers. For now, I’m going to consider the Coughlin experiment a failure.