Cody Coughlin is so close to his first victory in the ARCA Racing Series that he can taste it. The 19-year-old made people stand up and take notice in his maiden voyage to Talladega Superspeedway Saturday in Alabama. He scored the pole award, led a several laps and finished second in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 at the famed 2.66-mile oval.
The runner-up effort was Coughlin’s best ARCA performance to date. In fact, the Joe Gibbs Racing Development driver now has four-straight top-five finishes in series competition.
Coughlin led he race on three different occasions and was running third when a caution flew right before the white flag was presented. That resulted in a one-lap shootout to the finish.
On the restart, Tom Hessert ran out of fuel while leading and right in front of Coughlin. The Delaware, Ohio native was forced to check up, but coming to the checker, Coughlin was involved in a three-wide fight for second. He just inched his Sport Clips Toyota Camry in front of the challengers for the runner-up spot.
“A green-white-checkered is hectic enough, especially here, but then when we have just one lap, it’s really hectic,”said Coughlin after the race. “We tried to go out there and push as hard as we could to get the best finish for the 55. That’s what we did and we came home with second.
“There was some hope that a win was in the making, but it didn’t line up that way due to what happened on the restart. We couldn’t control that, but we did the best that we could and I’m proud of our second place effort.”
Coughlin also started the day by winning his first career pole in ARCA competition with a speed of 187.883 mph. That feat put a Venturini Motorsports car on the pole at Talladega since 2013.
The second place finish ends his streak of fourth place finishes in his last three ARCA Racing Series events that came at Kentucky Speedway, Kansas Speedway at the end of last season and Daytona International Speedway earlier this season.
Coughlin, his crew chief Dave Leiner and the Venturini Motorsports team continue to improve each time they hit the track, and the teen is grateful for the preparation they put into each event.
“We are definitely knocking on the door to get that win. We as a team get better every week,”added Coughlin. “I’m really excited to get to some of the mile-and-a-half tracks where you don’t have to rely on other competitors in the draft to run well. We have what it takes and that win is coming soon.
He is also grateful to the Team JEGS crew that was there to assist him, including Kevin Hamlin (Team JEGS Manager), Scott Wimmer (Spotter) and Dave Holt (crewmember).
Along with the support his race teams, he is proud of the loving support that he receives from his family that includes his parents, John & Di, and his sister Kennedi.
“Today would not be possible without the support of everyone on the race team and my family,”Coughlin expressed. “Kennedi and my mom couldn’t be here today because Kennedi was performing in a play, but I always feel their support. And my dad was my biggest cheerleader today for sure at the track.
“I also have to thank God for protecting us out there today. Talladega Superspeedway is a fast track and things can happen in a hurry. I am grateful for his blessing over all of us today.”
Cody’s next race will be his first road course race on Sunday, May 24th at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey.
For more information on Cody Coughlin and Team JEGS, visit www.teamjegs.com and follow Cody on Twitter, @cody_coughlin. You can also follow Team JEGS on Twitter, @TeamJEGS and “Like” JEGS Performance on Facebook.