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Two-time world champion Troy Coughlin won at the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals Sunday, Oct. 30, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to finish the 10-race J&A Services Pro Mod Drag Racing Series in second place overall. Coughlin has now finished either first or second in the championship chase for five consecutive seasons, a stunning mark in any professional category.
"It's been an awesome day and a phenomenal year," Coughlin said. "Last year we didn't win any races but managed to win the championship. This year we won three races but finished second. That's how crazy this class is and how close the racing has been year after year. It's a bunch of wins decided by fractions of a second.”
Rickie Smith secured his third NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series championship on Saturday by qualifying for the series event. On race day he turned on the red light in the semifinal round against event winner Coughlin.
Smith, who won the Pro Mod championship in 2013 and 2014, raced to a strong start of the season. In his IDG nitrous-aided ’15 Camaro he opened the season with a win at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. He raced to a runner up finish at the next event in Houston and won the third race of the season at Atlanta. He most recently raced to a runner-up finish in St. Louis. He was also the No. 1 qualifier at two events.
“We only have 10 races and when you only have 10 races you can’t get behind as it is hard to catch up,” said Smith. “Luckily, we got off to a heck of a run this year. We went to three finals and won two of them and that got us a good cushion. We kept making rounds and just trying to be consistent on Sunday.
“I was going to retire three years ago because I was ready. But you hate to quit when you are winning and doing this good. I know I’m going to have to quit one day but you can always quit, but you can’t always keep winning.”
Coughlin flexed brute force on the quarter-mile strip all day, reeling off a run of lightning-quick passes to beat Pete Farber, Kevin Rivenbark, newly crowned champ Rickie Smith and Todd Tutterow in the final. This was Coughlin's third victory of the season and ninth of his Pro Mod career.