NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 23) – Cody Coughlin and the JEGS.com team wrapped up a solid week at the 46th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing with a fourth-place finish in the 25-lap Pro Late Model feature Thursday night at New Smyrna Speedway.
Coughlin secured two poles in the four races in which the No. 1 JEGS.com Chevrolet competed, and he posted two top-five and three top-10 finishes, while battling for the lead in nearly every race.
“I wish we could have won a race down here, but that’s just my competitiveness coming out,” Coughlin, 16, said. “All the guys work so hard, and they deserved a win, but that’s not what the Lord had in mind this week, and I have to accept that.
“Still, we performed very well with a couple poles and some good finishes. It was fun to work with (crew chief) Butch (VanDoorn) for the first time, and it went well. I can’t wait to get the All-Stars Tour started.”
Coughlin, the reigning Howie Littow Rookie of the Year winner in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, returns to that series for its season-opener on April 22 at Plymouth Speedway in Plymouth, Ind.
“We got a good base to go off of for this year,” VanDoorn said. “The team’s coming together. I’m figuring out everybody’s strengths. We’ll go back and tweak on them and start off the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour strong.”
Friday at the .48-mile New Smyrna oval, Coughlin started second after the top two qualifying positions from Thursday were inverted. Coughlin fell in line in second at the green flag, but the yellow waved on Lap 3.
Leader Drew Bannon chose the inside lane for the restart, and Coughlin made a good jump as the two battled side-by-side for the lead. But before Coughlin could take advantage of the preferable outside lane, a five-car accident in Turn 1 slowed the race and brought out a red flag.
Thirty minutes later, Bannon took the outside for the next restart, pinning Coughlin on the low lane, and he slipped back to third on the restart. By lap 10, Coughlin faced a challenge for third from Brandon Johnson, who darted several times to the inside but couldn’t get clear of the No. 1 Chevy. The two raced side-by-side for several laps, with Coughlin squirting ahead.
With five laps remaining, Johnson tried again, though Coughlin held him off. Finally, Johnson nudged Coughlin off Turn 4 with two laps to go, forcing Coughlin to fall back to fourth.
“That was a good race for a long time with the 41 (of Johnson),” Coughlin said. “I thought I raced him clean, but then he gave me that nudge, and that was that. My guys deserved to finish third tonight.”
Coughlin received a good “learning experience,” VanDoorn said.
“He got together with a couple guys,” VanDoorn said. “It’s racing. He’s a young driver, and everybody did a good job, but that’s part of racing.”
Coughlin was joined at New Smyrna all week by his father, John, his mother, Di, and his sister Kennedi. Cody also spent time Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, which hosted the Gatorade Duels, the races to determine the starting order for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“I am so thankful for having this chance to race and to meet so many cool people,” Coughlin said. “I got a photo with Tony Stewart in victory lane, and that was awesome. The Lord has blessed us in so many ways, and I’ll never forget that.
“We had a good week of racing and other stuff, and I’m ready to get the JEGS All-Stars series going, for sure.”
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