TJ Coughlin completes Top Fuel license in Schumacher’s Red Fuel dragster
CHANDLER, AZ – February 5, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Steve Torrence and Jack Beckman were the quickest in their respective categories Thursday during the second day of NHRA Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.
NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams are utilizing the four-day pre-season test session to prepare for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals, next weekend (Feb. 11-14) at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. The tradition-rich race near Los Angeles is the season-opening event for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Steve Torrence from Nitro Spring Training
Torrence, who finished eighth in points last season, stole the show in Top Fuel, powering his Capco Contractors dragster to four low 3.7-second runs during the day, with a best of 3.729 seconds at 326.08 mph.
“That’s going to be my career fastest run, at least through today,” said Torrence, who also posted times of 3.739, 3.750 and 3.753 seconds. “We didn’t even go all the way to the end, clicked it at about 700-750 feet. Went 2.96 to half-track, and I am really impressed with the way the car is running. This new Morgan Lucas Racing chassis is working wonders for us. My team has worked their tails off all winter to get this car going. I’m glad all of this hard work is coming to fruition.”
Shawn Langdon followed Torrence with his 3.733 at 315.49 in the Red Fuel dragster, while Richie Crampton was third quickest in his Lucas Oil dragster with a 3.747 at 298.47. Brittany Force was fourth-quickest, posting a pair of 3.75-second runs in her Monster dragster. Defending world champ Antron Brown posted a best of 3.758 at 292.20 in his Matco Tools dragster.
In Funny Car, Beckman was quickest and produced a pair of 3.89-second runs, with his best effort in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger a 3.894 at 327.02.
Jack Beckman from Nitro Spring Training
“We are trying different parts and a different tune up on the car,” said Beckman, who had a memorable season last year where he raced to seven victories, set the national record four times and finished second in points. “It’s not just picking up where we left off in Pomona and trying to tweak the timers on clutch flow or the amount of the degrees in the ignition timing. We’re really trying to do things to make a better performing race car here.
“And in testing nobody gets any points, there’s no trophy. But there’s pride. And a lot of times even when you run poorly, you find something that can help you later in the year. We’ve had three outstanding laps so far this weekend, and there’s no reason to think we can’t continue the next two days, I feel good because the guys feel good.”
Tommy Johnson Jr. was second-quickest in his Make-A-Wish Dodge with a 3.932 at 321.81 and 16-time world champ John Force was third in his Peak Chevy Camaro with a 3.945 at 323.97 mph. Defending world champ Del Worsham posted a best of 3.956 at 325.77 in his DHL Toyota Camry.
Doug Kalitta and Ron Capps both experienced minor on-track engine explosions with flashes of fire during separate attempts.
Third-generation racer T.J. Coughlin made three runs in the DSR Red Fuel dragster to complete his Top Fuel license requirement. After competing in NHRA Pro Mod competition last season, TJ is exploring his options in the Top Fuel category and would love to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Jeg Coughlin Sr., who competed in NHRA Top Fuel racing in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
TJ Coughlin from Nitro Spring Training
Coughlin made three passes: 3.999 at 229.98, 3.853 at 321.81 and 3.870 at 289.14. Prior to today he had also made several runs in Del Worsham’s Top Fuel car at another track. He is in awe of the massive 10,000 horsepower machines.
“It’s pretty wild,” said Coughlin, son of two-time NHRA Pro Mod champ Troy Coughlin. “Thanks to Don Schumacher Racing for giving me the opportunity to do this with them here. It felt great. It was extremely fast and it leaves hard. It takes your shoulders and pushes them back and the further you go the further [your shoulders] go back. You really can feel what you are seeing on the graph of the G-force meter. It’s just unbelievable and very fascinating.”
He finished eighth in Pro Mod points last season with a trio of semifinal finishes in his JEGS Corvette. He says there’s a little bit of a comparison to his Pro Mod machine.
“It leaves a lot harder than a Pro Mod car but it is similar,” Coughlin said. “The way the power comes in and pushes you back it’s a lot like that location wise on the racetrack, but it’s a lot more dramatic in a Top Fuel car. There’s almost no words for it.”
Coughlin says he is still formulating the plan for a Top Fuel career and wants to see what his options are following the licensing procedure.
“I’ve always been into the history of drag racing and I would go to YouTube and watch some older races and I caught one from ‘78 or ‘79 and saw my Grandfather [Jeg Coughlin Sr.] was runner-up to Connie Kalitta and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’” Coughlin said. “It made me think about it. I like the history, the amount of work and the effort it takes to be a good driver and good team and working together. I am just really appreciative of the opportunity Don Schumacher and his group have granted me this weekend. They have great equipment and it was a lot of fun today.”
Several other drivers made runs today, many of them either shut-off runs or tire-smokers, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight, Matt Hagan, Chad Head, Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon and Tim Wilkerson in Funny Car and Troy Buff in Top Fuel.
Schumacher and Beckman were quickest in their respective categories during the few runs that were attempted on Wednesday. Schumacher powered to a 3.745 at 326.95 in the U.S. Army dragster and Beckman’s best was 3.920 at 316.60.
Below are some of the quickest performances from day two of NHRA Nitro Spring Training:
3.729, 326.08 – Steve Torrence
3.733, 315.49 – Shawn Langdon
3.739, 282.54 – Steve Torrence
3.750, 325.45 – Steve Torrence
3.753, 296.11 – Steve Torrence
3.758, 292.20 – Antron Brown
3.747, 298.47 – Richie Crampton
3.751, 316.38 – Brittany Force
3.758, 320.97 – Brittany Force
3.775, 272.12 – Antron Brown
3.781, 260.21 – Tony Schumacher
3.791, 292.58 – Leah Pritchett
3.795, 272.67 – Leah Pritchett
3.825, 274.00 – Antron Brown
3.853, 321.81 – TJ Coughlin
3.863, 269.03 – Dave Connolly
3.865, 239.82 – Tony Schumacher
3.870, 289.14 – TJ Coughlin
3.930, 256.41 – J.R. Todd
3.936, 252.05 – Dave Connolly
3.894, 327.03 – Jack Beckman
3.895, 325.06 – Jack Beckman
3.932, 321.81 – Tommy Johnson Jr.
3.945, 323.97 – John Force
3.956, 325.77 – Del Worsham
3.963, 234.82 – John Force
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.