Champion Racing Association to Debut New Late Model Tour in 2011
Crate Engines to be utilized in the “JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour presented by GM Performance Parts”
Salem, IN (Dec 29, 2010) – Champion Racing Association (CRA) officials announced recently the formation of a new Late Model Tour that will utilize crate engines and be sanctioned by CRA with support from marketing partners JEGS and GM Performance Parts.
“The JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour Presented by GM Performance Parts is the culmination of significant work by several people that started discussions in late September,” remarked CRA Managing Partner R.J. Scott. “We are very excited to be able to launch this tour with the help of JEGS and GM Performance Parts. This tour will be a total separate entity from the CRA Super Series for Super Late Models, which remains the heart and soul of CRA.
“This Tour will be a great addition to the other successful series that we have developed,” stated Glenn Luckett, CRA Managing Partner. “We have continually established series where we thought there was a need, and everyone has been pleased with their successes. We felt there was a need for a new premier crate late model tour, and we were lucky enough to find partners who felt the same need. They have provided us with the support to give crate late model racers a great place to compete!”
JEGS and GM Performance Parts are two companies with substantial histories in Motorsports. JEGS has been primarily involved with drag racing, but recently expanded their focus into circle track racing. GM Performance Parts has been involved with all types of Motorsports since the earliest days of racing and has been at the forefront of the development of economical, crate late model engines.
“Everyone at JEGS is very excited to be a part of the new JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour Presented by GM Performance Parts,” remarked Todd Iden, Director of Merchandising/Marketing with JEGS High Performance. “We look forward to working with CRA and GM Performance Parts to create a very competitive, yet cost effective touring series utilizing crate engines. The JEGS name has been well known in the drag racing industry for years. We want to use that success and experience to focus attention on providing more products and services to circle track racing at the grass roots level.”
As one of the most recognized names in motorsports, GM Performance Parts’ role as a presenting series sponsor is more proof of their commitment to short track racing. “We are extremely proud and excited to be part of the new JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour Presented by GM Performance Parts for 2011 and beyond”, said Bill Martens, Special Programs Manager for GM Performance Parts. “We expect to see the same results for asphalt late models, using the CT400 GMPP engine, which dirt track racers around the country have experienced for the past eight years. We are very glad to provide a reliable, powerful racing engine while keeping the engine very affordable for grassroots racers. Our motivation is really pretty simple: GM Performance Parts is trying to help contain the ever-rising costs of racing, so that our sport will survive and thrive! With racing partners like JEGS and CRA, we know going in that this program will be a huge success.”
One of the most popular and successful engines used in this type of racing has been GM Performance Parts’ CT400, also known as, and commonly referred to by racers, as a “604,” …the final three digits of its catalog part number. “The CT400 racing engine from GM Performance Parts is based on the famous 350 Chevrolet engine that has been, and still is, the overwhelming favorite of circle track racers on both dirt and asphalt. Using all new components, the CT400 engine develops slightly more than 400 horsepower right out of the box. Starting with a 4-bolt iron block, GMPP adds a forged steel crankshaft, steel hydraulic roller cam, high-low Fast-Burn aluminum heads, roller rocker arms and tops it off with a single-plenum high-rise intake manifold. The engine is closed up with left-turn-only valve cover breathers and a heavy gauge steel oil pan. By starting with a production-based foundation, we can keep the engine cost much lower than a custom built engine with a similar power output. The CT400 is in stock and ready to ship today from JEGS huge inventory,” according to Martens.
For the race tracks in the Midwest, there is already great anticipation for the new series. The first track to commit to host an event, even before the formal announcement, was Anderson Speedway. Track owner/promoter Rick Dawson commented, “Anderson Speedway is excited to be the first track to commit to an event in 2011. We have a history of being a launching pad for great series, with Anderson Speedway being the birthplace of the legendary American Speed Association in 1968 and Champion Racing Association in 1997. We feel like this will be another quality series for tracks, fans, and racers alike!”
The JEGS/CRA All Star Tour Presented by GM Performance Products will have 10 to 12 events in 2011 at race tracks from ¼ of a mile up to ¾ of a mile in length. Events will generally be 100 to 125 laps depending on the track size, using less than one tank of fuel and only four tires. CRA will be developing the complete rules package, event purses and schedule for the Tour over the next several weeks. All series information will be published on the CRA web site at www.craracing.net
Georgia Stock Car Racing – January 2011 Edition
Off season in the racing world? Not anymore…Thinking back to the days of November to March, and sometimes April is the longest drought for a race fan. Many tracks in the south east have started racing in the late/early part of the year, and it’s exciting to see.January 1st – Dillon Motor Speedway (Dillon, SC) – will make the 2011 season right by racing Street Stock, UCAR, Legends, Bandoleros, and Mini-Cup. (www.dillonmotorspeedway.com) January 7-9 – 4th Annual Ice Cold Shriners Bowl, hosted by NASCAR driver DavRagan – Lanier National Speedway, Braselton, GA. Racing action will be both Saturday and Sunday, as Saturday the Legends and Bandolero take to the track as they battle to see who will be the next racer invited to race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, at part of the Georgia Invitational that will be held on Labor Day weekend. Sunday January 9th, grandstands will open around 11am, as the Bandoleros, Junkyard Dogs, Legends, Pro Challenge, Renegades, Mini-Stocks, Outlaw Late Model, Super Trucks, and Pro Late Model (100 Laps) battle it out around the 3/8th’s mile asphalt oval. (www.lanierspeedway.com)
January 15th – Georgia Winter Flurry Series for Legends and Bandoleros – Atlanta Motor Speedway ¼ mile track. (www.atlantamotorspeedway.com – Lanier Speedway will be holding their 2010 banquet at Blackshear Baptist Church in Oakwood)ALSOJanuary 22nd – Georgia Winter Flurry Series for Legends and Bandoleros – Atlanta Motor Speedway ¼ mile track. (www.atlantamotorspeedway.com – Lanier Speedway is letting the tire smoke fly – Drifting, Dragging, and Driving. ()ALSOwww.lanierspeedway.com)
January 28th – 30th – Lanier Speedway host their biggest race of the year with the SPEEDFEST 2011. CRA SuperLate Models for 200 laps with the Pro Late Models running 150 laps on Sunday, January 29th. Saturday , January 28th, not only will the excitement kick up to see who sets the fastest time for Late Models, but the Super Trucks will be the stars of the evening racing for 100 laps, also featured are the Legends and Bandoleros. (www.lanierspeedway.com)
Promotional Idea – Lanier Speedway owner Donnie Clack announced December 20th, that for the Ice Cold Shriner’s Bowl 100% of the money earned at the concession stands will go directly to the Shriner’s.
Alcohol and Flames – Screven Ga Motor Speedway is proud to announce the Inagural ‘Winter Freeze’ to be held at the dirt track on Thursday, February 3, 2011.For the first time in the history of the track, the fastest and baddest 410-winged. alcohol burning 900 horsepower outlaw sprints will hit the 3/8ths mile red clay banks of Screven Motor Speedway as the O’Reilly Auto Parts All Star Circuit of Champions kicks off their 71st season with a $10,000 to win Championship event. In continuing his efforts of keeping the fans in mind at all events , the Screven grandstands will feature heaters under the bleachers compliments of owner, “Redd” James Griffin. Gates will open for the First Annual Winter Freeze at 4:00 pm on Thursday, Februrary 3rd 2011.
Screven Motor Speedway is located on Highway 21 just south of Sylvania, GA between mile-marker 6 and 7 in Screven County, GA. The track is located at 6118 Savannah Highway, Sylvania, GA 30467.For directions or other information visit www.screvenmotorspeedway.com or call (912) 754-5882 or (912) 857-4884 on race-day.
Needmore Dirt Racing in the Winter Months? – Officials from the World of Outlaws Late Model Series is pleased to announce their 2011 season, which stretches from coast to coast, will make an early appearance in the Peach State, when the series has a southeast swing. An early-season tripleheader weekend in the Southeast, with events on March 25th at Ocala (Fla.) Speedway, March 26th at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, GA, and March 27th at Needmore Speedway in Norman Park, GA. Ocala and Screven have previously hosted the tour, while Needmore is new to the WoO schedule.
Keeping the History alive – Tim Thornton is spearheading a group that is making plans for a Racer Reunion at the former Middle Georgia Raceway in Bryon, GA, to be held in the early Spring.
The Ultimate Super Late Models are coming – Stan Lester, the creator and founder of the Fastrak Champions Crate dirt late model series, has created a Super Late Model series, known as the ULTIMATE Super Late Model Series. Once a schedule is released, it will be published.
GA. Racing HOF Hosts GSMCA Awards BanquetDawsonville, Ga. – The Georgia Super Minicup Association wrapped up it’s 2010 season with a visit to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, Georgia, for their awards banquet on Dec. 5.
Among those honored was Will Fagan, of Cumming, Georgia, as the 2010 GSMCA Future Stars Champion, along with Casey Willingham, of Ball Ground, Georgia, the 2010 GSMCA Open Division champion.“The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame proved to be a wonderful location for our 2010 awards banquet,” said GSMCA President Bart Bullard. “Each of our drivers and the other attendees toured the museum and really enjoyed the unique displays that help make up Georgia racing history. I feel that we could not have asked for a better venue to host this event. It was also a pleasure to work with Mr. Gordon Pirkle in organizing this event.”“We were very proud to have the GMSCA hold their banquet here at the Hall of Fame,” said Pirkle, the CEO of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame board of directors. “What we try to do here at the hall is preserve and promote the history of the sport in the state, and the GSMCA and their drivers are working to make sure we have more history and stories to tell in the future.”
Established in 2009, the GMSCA has worked for the last two years to bring Minicup racing to the south. Governed by the Miniature Motorsports Association, the cars are half scale stock cars with tube chassis and four-wheel disc brakes. The racers also use two-way radio communications with sponsors and a full chassis car.Series officials honored the top finishers from each division as well at the banquet. In the final standings for the Future Stars Division, following champion Fagan was second place Mason Elzey of Cumming, Georgia, with Emilee Riley of Jasper, Georgia, Eric Brookshire of Cumming, Georgia, Brody Bullard of Canton, Georgia and Austin Raines of Cumming, Georgia rounding out the top six.In the Open Division, following champion Willingham was Riley, Fagan, Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, Georgia and Mary Wilson of Duluth, Georgia.
With the GSMCA serving as the first major touring series to hold their awards banquet at the facility, Pirkle said he hopes the series is the first of many to celebrate the end of their season at the Hall of Fame.“We were so proud to have the GSMCA here,” Pirkle said. “We think this is the perfect setting for any track or series to honor their champions. With the history that is here mixed with the history they are writing, it’s the perfect place to see new champions crowned.”For more information on the GSMCA, visit their website at www.georgiasuperminicups.com more information on the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, including facility rental for events, go to .Forwww.georgiaracinghof.com, or call 706-216-RACE (7223).
40th FLORIDA DIRTcar NATIONALS by UNOH – VOLUSIA
|TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8 THROUGH SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2011
Race fans and race teams will seek refuge from the cold and snow in Florida’s sunny skies for the 40th consecutive year this February at the DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.
It’s 12 straight nights featuring dirt racing’s biggest names from all disciplines of the sport and all corners of the United States and Canada.
Over the nearly two-week stretch, you’ll see the UMP DIRTcar Modifieds (Feb. 8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15), All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars (Feb. 9-10), World of Outlaws Sprint Cars (Feb. 11-12-13), UMP DIRTcar Late Models (Feb. 14-15-16-18), Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds (Feb. 16-17-18-19) and the World of Outlaws Late Models (Feb. 17 & 19).
Best of all! Every night is a full two-division doubleheader!
It’s Florida in February! The 40th Florida DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH!
Cody – Year in Review
Late Model debut highlights Cody Coughlin’s 2010 season
Years from now, aspiring circle track racer Cody Coughlin will likely remember 2010 as the year where he too a big leap from the minor leagues of Quarter Midget racing to the big show as he took his first steps towards a career in Stock car racing by making his debut in a Late Model Stock Car. Beginning the season behind the wheel of his Quarter Midget, the 14-year old Coughlin quickly progressed and by August, the third-generation race found himself behind the wheel of a 420 horsepower Late Model Stock Car, racing against drivers more than twice his age. Coughlin quickly adjusted to the bigger, heavier, and much faster race car as he drove to a respectable 15th place finish in his debut at the Michigan 100 at Owosso Speedway in Ovid, Mich. A few weeks later, Coughlin also finished 17th the annual Icebreaker 100 in Lacrosse, Wis. At that event, Coughlin managed to avoid trouble and not only completed all 100 laps, but also finished on the lead lap.
“We spent most of the year testing so I could get used to the Late Model because it was a big step up from the Quarter Midget,” said Coughlin. “With the Late Model, it feels like you are driving a real car as opposed to the Quarter Midget, which was more like a tricycle in comparison. It took me a few races to get the hang of it but no I’m pretty comfortable.”
In order to help Cody complete a smooth transition to Late Model cars, the JEGS team has hired NASCAR driver Landon Cassill to join current JEGS car chief Gary St. Amant, as a coach and mentor. Kevin Harvick has also been involved in Cody’s driver development program and he given tons of pointers along the way. The team recently added short track standout Rich Lushes as a crew chief. Lushes will oversee the entire circle track operation and is expected to make an immediate impact.
Landon Cassill recently drove the No. 7 JEGS entry to a pair of top five finishes in the Snowflake 100 and Snowball 300 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. A test session at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida helped convince Coughlin that his career was on the right track.
“The highlight of the year for me was that test session at New Smyrna,” said Coughlin. “I got to test with Landon and by the time we were done my lap times were really close to his. He’s got a lot of experience and he’s even won at that track a couple of times for it was really good for my confidence.”
Coughlin’s off-season will be brief as he plans to return to Florida in February for the annual Speedweeks events, which include some of the sport’s most prestigious Late Model events. He’s also looking to run a full season schedule of Late Model races closer to home.
“We’re planning on running all of the events we can close to home and maybe some extra events towards the end of the year,” said Coughlin. “We’re also looking to incorporate some longer events and some races that have pit stops so I can gain more experience. Hopefully, I can win a race or two and compete for the Rookie of the Year. That would be really awesome. Driving the Late Model is really great and we’re going to have a lot of fun next season.”
After producing three generations of championship winning drag racers, Cody is the first member of the Coughlin family to take up circle track racing and he’s fully aware that his progress is being followed closely by his family, friends, JEGS Mail Order associates and many others.
“I’ve been amazed at how many people are taking an interest in what we’re doing with this program,” said Coughlin. “It’s something totally new for me and the family and hopefully, we can also create a lot of opportunities from a business standpoint as well. Right now, I couldn’t be happier.”
Marco Andretti says “… if we do everything right, there’s no reason we can’t contend week in and week out.”
via Andretti reviews his season.
Troy Coughlin – Year in Review
Fourth place finish highlights Troy Coughlin’s 2010 season
Racing in the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Series in 2010, Troy Coughlin enjoyed a lot of success as he posted a very respectable fourth place finish behind the wheel of his nitrous oxide-equipped JEGS.com
Chevy Camaro. Racing against world class drivers all season, Coughlin’s performance was consistent from start to finish and he earned the dubious distinction of being the only driver in the class to qualify for all ten events in 2010. He also posted several semifinal finishes along the way.
“Overall, it was a pretty good year for us,” said Coughlin. “Being the only guy to qualify for every race says something not only about how competitive the series is, but also how solid our team is. Running a nitrous car, I felt like we were at a disadvantage against the supercharged and turbocharged cars but we were able to hold our own. At the last race in Las Vegas, we were sweating bullets because we struggled to qualify but we managed to get in and that helped us finish fourth.”
Coughlin, who is a former champion in the National Muscle Car Association’s Scorpion Performance Pro Street class, returned to that series with his JEGS.com Pontiac and reached the final round of the NMCA event in Charlotte, N.C., en route to a respectable third place finish.
“I really enjoy the NMCA races,” said Coughlin. “They are a lot of fun and I get to meet a lot of new people. My NMCA car is also a lot of fun to drive. It’s naturally aspirated so it reminds me of driving the Pro Stock car. I’d like to be able to run a few of those events in 2011 as well.”
Another personal highlight for Coughlin in 2010 was being on hand at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend to watch his son, T.J., capture the Super Comp title at the prestigious NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. The victory was especially gratifying for the elder Coughlin as he was not in Las Vegas for T.J.’s first victory last November.
“I had a wedding to attend last year when T.J. was in Las Vegas, but I’m glad I was there for the big win in Indianapolis,” Troy said. “It more than made up for missing the first one. T.J. has a good car and a good crew and his head is in the game. I’m really proud of him.”
Troy and his wife, Julie, also devote a great deal of time to their family including T.J., and their three daughters, Meghan, Paige and Kelly. Meghan currently works for JEGS Mail Order and has expressed an interest in joining the racing team possibly behind the wheel of a JEGS Super Street entry. Paige is an avid member of the Jr. Drag Racing League and she may soon be joined by Kelly, who recently celebrated her eighth birthday. Both Paige and Kelly are also heavily involved in the Ohio Hunter Jumper Association, which conducts Equestrian events in the Buckeye State. Paige is currently ranked No. 3 in her age group in Ohio while Kelly is ranked sixth.
Turning his attention to 2011, Troy will once again make major changes to his racing program as he plans to build a new car with a turbocharged engine for the Get Screened America Pro Mod series. Troy last raced a turbo car in 2007 before moving to a supercharged and later a nitrous oxide combination for last season. In order to help with the transition, the JEGS Mail Order team has hired turbo charging specialist Jake Hairston.
“If wouldn’t be an off-season if we didn’t make changes to power adders or build a new car,” Coughlin joked. “We have a lot of work to do this winter but I’m really excited about it. Last year, our nitrous car was good but I don’t think it was on par with the turbo or supercharged cars. We need to pick up a few hundredths and I think we can do that with our new turbo car. Jake will be a big help. He’s been there and done that. His family runs a very competitive turbo car and we’ll benefit from all that technology. I may even drive his car at the first race if my new car isn’t finished yet. As for the new car, it is being built by Jerry Bickel and it will either be a ’68 Camaro body or a ’11 Mustang. We aren’t sure just yet but whichever one we choose, I think we’ll have a better chance to win races this season.”
In addition to the 10-race Get Screened America Pro Mod Series, Coughlin’s busy schedule also includes select NMCA events and the annual Street Car Supernationals in Las Vegas in mid-November.
Jeg Coughlin Jr – Year in Review
After another successful season, Jeg Coughlin Jr plans big changes for 2011
With five world championships and 66 national event wins during his amazing career, Jeg Coughlin Jr., has set the bar high which is why he can be forgiven if he feels his 2010 season, which featured five wins and a seventh place finish in the Pro Stock, was something less than a rousing success. After winning Pro Stock events in Houston, Atlanta, Sonoma and Brainerd, Coughlin entered the playoff phase of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship as the third ranked driver in the class but good fortune eluded him during the critical stretch drive and he finished a disappointing seventh.
“This season definitely had some bright spots, and I was happy with what we accomplished in Pro Stock car. “We had a good team and a good car and a lot of momentum going into countdown and then it was like a switch was hit and we didn’t perform well. We had engine problems and wound up chasing our tails. That was the only thing that put a damper on the season. Overall, we won four races and I think we had one of the better cars out there.”
While any of his four Pro Stock wins could be considered a season highlight, Coughlin is also justifiably proud of his performance at the NHRA O’Reilly Midwest Nationals in Madison, where he drove his brother, John’s JEGS.com
entry to the Top Dragster title. At the same event, Jeg drove to a runner-up finish in Pro Stock and would almost certainly have completed a rare double victory had his car not broken in the final round.
“I’m not sure if the highlight for me was winning Top Dragster in St. Louis or winning Pro Stock in Sonoma,” said Coughlin. “They were both special wins. Racing’s John’s Top Dragster was a lot of fun, and I had to win some tough rounds. I nearly got that rare double but we broke on the starting line in Pro Stock so I guess it wasn’t meant to be. As for Sonoma, that track is awesome, the fans are unique and I really enjoy racing there.”
Late in the season, Coughlin made headlines when he announced that he would not be driving in the NHRA Pro Stock class in 2011. Instead, he plans to return to his first love, sportsman racing and will go all out with a new Super Gas entry and a new Undercover chassis dragster to join the Dodge Challenger DragPak entry he campaigned on a limited basis in Stock Eliminator this season. Without the responsibility of running all 22 NHRA Full Throttle Series events, Coughlin is free to race wherever and whenever he likes, which means he and his fiancée, Samantha, will also be able to participate in numerous big money bracket races. Coughlin last took a break from Pro Stock in 2006, and enjoyed tremendous success as a sportsman racer, winning some of the biggest and most prestigious E.T. bracket races in the country and banking more than $100,000 in prize money. He’s eager to see if he can duplicate that success in 2011.
“It would be a tall order to duplicate 2006, but I’m just going to go out and give it my best shot,” said Coughlin. “I’ve got a new dragster on the way and a Corvette roadster from Don Davis Race Cars for Super Gas that should be here any day now. When I look back at my career, the first thing I remember is my first win in Super Gas in 1990. That is still one of my favorite classes so I’m looking forward to getting back out there. For most of the year, I want to hit some of the big bracket races around the country. That’s one of the things I missed the most while I was racing in Pro Stock. And finally, I’d like to be at all three JEGS SPORTSnationals races. So yes, I won’t be racing in Pro Stock this year but I’ll still be plenty busy.”
Star Mazda joins INDYCAR weekend at Barber: The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will be part of INDYCAR’s event weekend at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., on April 9-10.
Star Mazda teams will join Firestone Indy Lights and the IZOD IndyCar Series on the race schedule during the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama on April 10 as well as INDYCAR’s spring training event at a road course to be named.
It will be the first of many opportunities during the season for drivers and teams to build relationships around INDYCAR’s Mazda Road to Indy program.
“These announcements, along with several yet to come, mark a major step toward the creation of a fully integrated, fully-functioning development program for open-wheel racing in North America,” said Star Mazda founder and CEO Gary Rodrigues. ”I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this a reality and to encourage young drivers around the world to pay close attention to the unique and exciting opportunities that Star Mazda and the Mazda Road to Indy will offer in 2011 and beyond. Any driver serious about making a professional career in open-wheel racing needs to be a part of this program.”
Star Mazda is one of four series that make up Mazda Road to Indy, which will provide scholarship funding for champions at each level to move up and compete in the next level of the sport.
The 2011 champion in the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda will receive a scholarship to race a full season in the 2012 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. The 2011 Star Mazda champion gets a full-season scholarship to compete in the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights series. And the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights champion will move up to race in the IZOD IndyCar series in 2012.
Star Mazda teams and drivers will share the racetrack with the IZOD IndyCar Series seven times during 2011; spring training plus six race weekends on two road circuits (Barber and Infineon), two street courses (St. Petersburg and Baltimore) and two ovals (Milwaukee, and Iowa).
Kanaan joins de Ferran Dragon Racing for 2011: de Ferran Dragon Racing president Gil de Ferran announced Dec. 20 that the team has signed 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan to compete in the 2011 season – its third in the series.
Kanaan will drive the No. 2 car with the sponsorship package to be announced in the new year.
“This is a great signing and a major coup for de Ferran Dragon Racing,” said de Ferran, the 2003 Indianapolis 500 and two-time CART champion. “He is a proven champion and brings with him a great record of success on the track. Tony has consistently placed at the sharp end of the field for more than a decade and shows no signs of letting up. I am sure his contribution to the team, both in terms of speed and experience, will be invaluable to our development and future success.
“Tony’s presence is also a significant vote of confidence for our young and developing team. This news certainly clarifies that we are serious in our intention to become a major force in the series.”
Kanaan, who turns 36 on Dec. 31, made his first start in the series in the 2002 Indianapolis 500. He joined Andretti Green Racing for the full 2003 season, providing the team its first pole start and victory in its second race. In 2004, Kanaan set an unrivaled record by became the first driver in major auto racing history to complete every lap of every race for an entire season on his way to winning the series title.
Kanaan has finished in the top six of the championship standings in each of his eight full seasons in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
“I am really excited to be working with de Ferran Dragon Racing,” said Kanaan, a native of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. “I have a great deal of respect for Steve Luczo, Jay Penske and, of course, Gil, who I have known for many years both as a driver and now as a team owner. I know that the owners have a passion for the sport and a dream of being among the best in the series and will assemble all the right skills to turn this team into something really special.
“There is no doubt we have a lot work in front of us, but the energy I’ve felt from this team for becoming a top player and winning convinced me that this is a team where I can truly contribute and make a difference through my years of experience. One thing is for sure, 2011 is going to be a great journey for us all.”
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season starts March 27 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Year in Review – TJ Coughlin
Indy victory makes Coughlin’s year a success
For most racers, a win at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is usually enough to make any season a successful one and that was certainly the case in 2010 for third-generation JEGS driver T.J. Coughlin. Following his inaugural win at the 2009 Las Vegas event, Coughlin continued to make steady progress in the highly competitive Super Comp class last season as he won the sport’s premiere event, and posted an eighth-place finish out of more than 1,000 regular competitors.
“When I was in high school, I made a list of my goals and one of them was to win the U.S. Nationals before I turned 22,” said Coughlin, who won the Indy title a few weeks after his 20th birthday. “To me, that was a dream come true, especially since my dad (Troy Sr.) won Indy when I was just a kid. That made it even more special.”
It’s no surprise that Coughlin was able to enjoy a successful season in 2010 as his confidence skyrocketed following the Las Vegas victory a year earlier. In addition to his Indy win, he was a late round fixture at many Super Comp events and he also made his mark at big money E.T. racing events, holding his own against some of the toughest sportsman racers in the country.
“I was in third place for a month during the summer and eventually finished 8th in Super Comp,” said Coughlin. “I also had a shot to win the Division 3 championship but I red-lighted by a thousandth of a second at my home race in Columbus. That was one of the few low points of the season.”
As impressive as his results were, Coughlin contends that the ability to work together as part of a team was the biggest lesson he was able to take from the 2010 season. In addition to the wisdom shared by his father, Troy Sr., and his uncles, John, Mike, and Jeg, Coughlin was also mentored by E.T. champ Kenny Underwood.
“Coming into this year we had high expectations because of my win in Las Vegas and thanks to my team we were able to meet them,” said Coughlin. I really like the idea of being part of a team. Kenny and I work so well together. We communicate well and we’re almost always on the same page. That wasn’t always the case in 2009 so I think the whole communication thing was as important as anything else I was able to accomplish this year. I think it’s a shame that Kenny doesn’t get more recognition because he’s so good. I don’t think I could find a better teacher.”
Given his success, Coughlin doesn’t see the need to make major changes to his racing program in 2011 so he isn’t going to. However, he does plan to get an early start on the competition by heading to Florida shortly after the first of the year for the first major east coast racing events in West Palm Beach and Bradenton, and the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals in Gainesville. While in Gainesville, Coughlin plans to celebrate the upcoming International Drag Racing Hall of Fame induction of his grandfather, Jeg Coughlin Sr.
“I’m really looking forward to the Florida trip and it will be great to have all of the family together for the Hall of Fame ceremony,” said Coughlin. “I’d like to see if I can score some points early and then try to finish the season at Pomona next November. I’m also planning to race in as many big bracket races as I can. Those races are very competitive, but they are also a lot of fun. I’d definitely like to win one soon.”
Coughlin also acknowledged that he may get a chance to drive his father’s new turbocharged Pro Mod Camaro, a car that should easily run in the five-second zone at over 250-mph.
“We talked about it but right now I’m not sure,” said Coughlin. “Maybe I could do a burnout or two but I don’t think I’m ready to be going that fast right now. I think I’ll stick with my dragster for a while longer. I did say that I’d like to try Pro Stock someday so hopefully that’s still an option for down the road. No matter what, I had a lot of fun last year and I can’t wait to come back and try again.”