Veteran NHRA sportsman driver Troy Coughlin Jr. is making the jump to drag racing’s major league and to one of the sport’s most prominent teams.
Kalitta Motorsports announced Friday evening that it is expanding to a three-team Top Fuel operation in 2017, adding Coughlin to the current lineup of Doug Kalitta and J.R. Todd.
How many races Coughlin will compete in will be determined by the amount of sponsorship obtained, with hopes that he’ll race the full Top Fuel schedule.
“Kalitta Motorsports has a lot of history and legacy in NHRA similar to my family,” Coughlin said in a media release. “The first time I came to Team Kalitta I noticed the family-type atmosphere and the extreme desire to win and I knew this was the team I wanted to be involved with.
“I am studying hard and plan to hit the ground running and have a strong start to the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season.”
Coughlin currently is atop the NHRA Division 3 Super Comp division standings. He previously won the Division 3 Super Gas championship in 2013. He’s also a two-time U.S. Nationals winner.
In the 2015 season, Coughlin was Rookie of the Year in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod series.
Coughlin, 26, has driven a variety of drag cars in his career, including Junior Dragsters, Super Comp, Super Gas, Top Dragster and Pro Mod. He earned his Top Fuel license earlier this year.
Troy Coughlin Jr. has a long family pedigree in drag racing that has amassed a combined 111 victories and numerous championships.
Grandfather Jeg Coughlin Sr., won several NHRA races in the 1970s and 1980s. His father, Troy Coughlin Sr., is the reigning NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod champion.
Uncle Jeg Coughlin Jr. is a five-time NHRA Pro Stock champ, while Troy’s other uncles, John and Mike Coughlin, are also former champions.
Troy Jr. will be in the running for the 2017 AAA Road to the Future rookie of the year honors, which Jeg Coughlin Jr. won in 1988, as well as three of his new teammates: Del Worsham (1991), Doug Kalitta (1998) and J.R. Todd (2006), have also earned.
“Kalitta Motorsports is thrilled to have Troy join our team,” said Jim Oberhofer, Vice President of Operations, Kalitta Motorsports. “He has a ton of talent and a passion for racing.
“The Coughlin and Kalitta names have a long track record of success in NHRA drag racing and we know Troy, Jr. is just going to help continue that tradition of success for both families for years to come.”
Kalitta Motorsports will compete in its 59th season in 2017, having been founded by team patriarch Connie Kalitta in 1959.
Next season will mark the first time in team history that it has fielded a combined six teams in NHRA’s two pro Nitro categories: Top Fuel and Funny Car.