LONG POND, PA — Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Cody Coughlin continued to display the traits of a championship-caliber racecar driver on Friday afternoon at Pocono Raceway (PA). Even when the best hand wasn’t dealt to him and a few obstacles could have gotten in his way, the Delaware, Ohio native fought hard to get everything he could out of the No. 55 JEGS.com Toyota for Venturini Motorsports.
Coughlin proved to be battle tested all weekend as he fought through an engine change following Thursday’s practice, a 13th-place qualifying effort, and a heavy rain shower to compete within the top-five before crossing the checkered flag in the ninth position at the end of the ARCA Racing Series Modspace 125 at the track coined, “The Tricky Triangle.”
“I think we ran very well today,” said Coughlin. “We were up in the top-five for most of the day. We struggled in practice because of fuel pump and engine issues. It’s so hard because when you’re not up to speed fully it is really hard to get a balance on the car because it drives so much different when you have more power. We kind of qualified blind, but in the race we just took off.”
The ninth-place finish on Friday afternoon was Coughlin’s second top-10 finish at the 2.5-mile tri-oval in 2014. Overall, it is his sixth career top-10 finish in nine career ARCA Racing Series starts. He hasn’t finished outside of the top-13 in any of his nine starts.
After battling the car during practice on Thursday and going into qualifying with a new motor under the hood of the car, Coughlin was happy with how well the team was able to bounce back and run well during the 50-lap feature event.
“Dave (Leiner) and the guys gave me a really good JEGS.com Toyota for the race,” said Coughlin. “We made big gains considering we didn’t get a whole lot of quality practice. We were running a lot better than ninth all day. Ninth was probably the worst I was all day other than the initial start of the race. I think that says a lot.”
Just before the start of driver introduction on the frontstretch on Friday afternoon, heavy rain began to fall from the Pennsylvania sky forcing the No. 55 JEGS.com Venturini Motorosports team to take cover and wait out the storm. When the race resumed just over one-hour later, thunderstorms looked as though they were going to move back into the area and cut the race short.
Instead of pitting for fuel during an early caution, the call was made to stay out with the majority of the leaders with the thought that rain would put an end to the race after the halfway point. The rain, outside of a few sprinkles, stayed away from the race track and that forced Coughlin to surrender a top-five spot in order to bring the car to pit road on lap 38 for a splash of fuel.
“We were running well, but I just think this weather deal and playing around with strategy threw another curveball at us,” said the 18-year-old ARCA Racing Series competitor. “It could have gone either way. You can’t say we made a bad call because that’s what we thought was going to happen, we thought the rain was going to come in. I think maybe if we pitted early we could have finished in the top-three, but overall I was pretty pleased with it. I think everybody watching the race knew that we were in contention.”
After finishing the 125-mile event at Pocono Raceway, Coughlin jumped on a plane with his family and returned to his home state of Ohio to prepare for Saturday’s ARCA/CRA Super Series JEGS Bud St. Amant 174 Super Late Model event at Columbus Motor Speedway.
“This is such an exciting weekend for me and my family racing at two different race tracks in two different types of cars,” said Coughlin. “I can’t thank my mom (Di), dad (John), and sister (Kennedi) enough for their love and support for me this weekend. I also have to thank God for keeping me save during a weekend that has included a lot of travel, both on and off the track, thus far.”
Cody Coughlin will make his next ARCA Racing Series start on September 13 at Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana.
For more information on Cody Coughlin and Team JEGS, visit www.teamjegs.com and follow Cody on Twitter, @Cody_Coughlin. Follow team JEGS on Twitter, @TeamJEGS and “Like” JEGS Performance on Facebook.