NHRATop Fuel rookie Troy Coughlin Jr., despite sitting 10th in the series standings and with a shot at qualifying for the Countdown playoffs, has left his Top Fuel ride with Kalitta Motorsports.
In a team press release,Kalitta Motorsports saidthat Coughlin "has removed himself from the seat of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster, citing a desire to get more experience in the Top Alcohol Dragster ranks. The third-generation driver has been racing the Kalitta Motorsports entry for the first 17 races of the2017 season."
Coughlin's move kicks the door open for teammate and 2013 Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon to fill that 10th and final playoff spot. Langdon trailed Coughlin by eight points going into this week's regular-seasonfinal, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis.
"I want to thank everyone at Kalitta Motorsports for such an incredible opportunity," Coughlin said. "It was a dream come true to race for Connie Kalitta and Jim Oberhofer. My teammates, Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon, Alexis DeJoria and JR Todd, as well as everyone at SealMaster, have been extremely supportive. Obviously, my rookie year hasn't turned out like we wanted, but everyone showed incredible faith in what we were doing and my development as a driver. I just want to take a step back and get some more seat time in an injected nitro dragster."Oberhofer was Coughlin's crew chief and is the vice president of motorsports for the Kalitta race team."Kalitta Motorsports fully supports Troy Jr.'s decision to take a step towards growing as a driver and will help him in any way possible to reach his goals," Oberhofer said. "His action shows remarkable character: doing what it takes to become the best."By racing in Top Fuel, Coughlin, 27, was following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Jeg Coughlin Sr., who raced in the class in the late '70s.The son of two-time Pro Mod world champion Troy Coughlin, Troy Jr. is a five-time NHRA national event winner and the first third-generation Coughlin to win a major event. Troy Jr. won Super Comp titles at the 2009 Las Vegas race and the 2010 U.S. Nationals and the Gainesville, Florida, event in 2013. He also won a pair of national events in 2014 at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals.Troy Jr. was the 2013 NHRA North Central Division Super Gas champion. During his career, Troy Jr. has appeared in nine Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisional final rounds and has claimed three victories."I hope to be drag racing my entire life, so this is not the end by any means," Troy Jr. said. "This is just something I felt I needed to do at this time. I'll be back racing in the Sportsman ranks very soon."
By Autoweek Staff
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