WEST SALEM, Wis. (Oct. 10 ) – Third-generation racer Cody Coughlin left LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway Saturday night a better driver than when he arrived.
The 14-year old who was competing in just his third North Late Model race, finished 17th overall in his JEGS.com Chevrolet Impala, but more importantly stayed on the lead lap and finished all 100 laps in the Octoberfest 100.
“It was a lot of fun and one of the biggest Late Model races I’ve ever been to,” Coughlin said. “We did what we set out to do, which was complete all the laps we can.”
He said the experience he gained negotiating traffic and heightening his situational awareness will be key in the future.
“We dealt with a lot of the different characteristics of the car,” Coughlin said. “I was bottoming out a couple of times coming out of Turn 4. It was tight a couple of times. It was good for me to feel that, and be able to control it.
“Got some experience passing, too. I think I got some more respect from the other drivers, which means they might cut you some slack on a restart or something on down the road. I want to earn as much respect as possible from those guys.”
Coughlin said he was especially proud that he was able dodge contact in the close quarters of the .545-mile track.
“It’s an accomplishment just to finish with all the cars spinning and all the debris on the track,” Coughlin said. “It’s all about finesse and being able to get the most out of your race car.
“I’ve had closer calls at other tracks, but there were wrecks that I avoided. The leader was also beatin’ and bangin’ with a lapped car in front of me, so I was wary of that. It was good experience for me to look about a half a track ahead.”
The Octoberfest 100 was the season finale for North Late Model racers, but it might not be the end of Coughlin’s season.
“I’m not sure if we’re planning on racing a weekly somewhere or not,” Coughlin said. “I hope we’ll race somewhere else. It would be great to get out there a couple more times this year.”
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