TOPEKA, KS (July 21) - It's going to be another busy weekend for Team JEGS drag racers Mike Coughlin and Makenna Brown as they head to Heartland Motorsports Park for a double-header weekend of Division 5 action in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Reigning Division 3 Top Dragster champion Mike Coughlin is fresh off an impressive runner-up result at the annual JEGS SPORTSnationals, which concluded Sunday at National Trail Raceway in Ohio. His team, led by crew chief Greg Cody, hope to help the boss go one step further in Kansas.
"That was our first race of the year and we really didn't have any issues at all," Coughlin said. "We got as close to a win as you can get without winning but when you run into a guy like Anthony Bertozzi you know you're racing one of the top 2-3 racers in the world. Every once in a while, you need a little luck. It's hard to win round after round at this level.
"The JEGS.com dragster is happy, I'm pleased with my driving, and the guys -- Greg, Tony Collier, Dave Ruark and Ryan Micke -- are working well together. We had an awesome start and I hope it continues. When you have a situation like this where everything is clicking it's just so much fun to race."
Making up for time lost to the COVID-19 shutdown, there will be two full events run during this extended weekend. The first will take place Thursday and Friday, with the second race covering Saturday and Sunday. This is the second weekend in a row where Coughlin is competing in a double-header situation.
"The more racing the better for me," Coughlin said. "We'll probably use Thursday to see if anything needs tweaking for the conditions we'll face at this track, like the EFI or blower boost. That's about all she needs.
"It'll be fun racing with Makenna again. She's doing really well and getting in as much seat time as she can, which is critical. I always enjoy racing with my nieces and nephews, and my brothers, when we can. We have a lot of fun together and that's the No. 1 thing."
Brown is attacking her transition from Junior Dragsters to Super Comp with multiple race appearances this summer. Like Coughlin, Brown is excited to have two chances at glory this weekend although she knows gaining experience in one of the most crowded classes in drag racing is of paramount importance.
"The learning process is never-ending," Brown said. "My cousin T.J. (Troy Coughlin Jr.) always tells me, drag racing is all about persistence. I'm so thankful to be surrounded by such great people who are helping me learn more about the car, how it runs, and how to build consistency.
"This year I'm trying to get as much seat time as possible. I like going up against the really skilled racers to see what they do. These big divisional races always bring out the top drivers."
A big part of Brown's learning process is racing with her family members, as she knows her uncles and cousins shared experiences make her a better driver.
"Uncle Mike has always been there to help me, listen to me, and give me his best advice," she said. "During his final round appearance in Top Dragster this past weekend, I was able to watch his runs and see the skill he has. He has so much knowledge about the sport and always is open to sharing his thoughts with me.
"I've realized you have to learn every pass, even from the rounds you lose, to become a better racer. My grandpa (Jeg Coughlin Sr.) taught me to take a moment and reflect on every run, no matter the outcome, and appreciate the lessons you learn. I always take time to do that when I race."