The ARCA ActivArmr150 event at Chicagoland Speedway is off to a good start for 18-year-old Joe Gibbs Development Driver Cody Coughlin.
Coughlin, driving the No. 55 JEGS.com Toyota for Venturini Motorsports, finished the lone ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards practice session Friday afternoon with the fastest lap of the session. Having his No. 55 atop the scoreboard leading into Saturday's time trials and 100-lap race gives the Delaware, Ohio native a huge momentum boost.
"It may not pay points or money to win practice, but this is a huge morale booster for the entire No. 55 JEGS.com team," said Coughlin after Friday's practice at Chicagoland. "We're still a young team, so I'm really pleased that we were able to make the progress that we did to end up quickest at the end of the day."
Coughlin fought handling issues in the first three runs on the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, his first-ever laps at the Joliet, Illinois track. When crew chief Dave Leiner and the Venturini Motorsports crew discovered a broken hub was the culprit for all the handling fits, the day took a quick turn for the better.
Coughlin picked up time on his subsequent race runs and then laid down the day's quickest time on his mock qualifying run with just three minutes remaining in practice.
"When we found that right-front hub and got it fixed, it was like a whole different racecar," said Coughlin. "It drove so much better than it did before. I'm very blessed to have such a great crew working on my JEGS.com car to get it fixed quickly and back out there to lay down a good lap."
Now, Coughlin, his family including father John, mother Di and sister Kennedi, will enjoy a night in Chicago while the young driver prepares for qualifying and the ActivArmr 150 Saturday.
"Things can always change from day to day, but seeing the No. 55 atop the scoring pylon in the infield as we left the garage was a great way to end this day. We're just going to keep working hard tomorrow and try to keep this thing out front."
Qualifying for the ARCA Racing Series ActivArmr 150 is set for 1:30pm CDT on Saturday, July 19. The green flag for the 100-lap, 150-mile ActivArmr 150 is set to fly at 5pm CDT. The race will air live on FOX Sports 2.