JEGS CRA All-Stars - Career-best Runner-up Finish For Cody Coughlin Lifts JEGS.com Team
LOVES PARK, July 31, 2011: Showing maturity that defies his young age, JEGS.com Chevrolet driver Cody Coughlin posted his best finish of the season in Saturday night's Stanley Steemer 100 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race at Rockford Speedway.
Coughlin, 15, had the chance to move winner Erik Jones in the closing laps, but earned the respect of his peers by racing clean instead. Still, the finish was the best of his rookie season and came at one of the Midwest's most difficult short tracks.
"It was pretty neat, but at the same time it was kind of aggravating because we were so close to winning it," Coughlin said. "I definitely wanted to win, but it was still neat to get a good finish."
Coughlin posted the eighth-best practice time on the high-banked, quarter-mile track, and then qualified eighth with a lap of 67.601 mph (13.629 seconds) for the 100-lap race. But thanks to an inversion, Coughlin's No. 1 JEGS Chevrolet led the field to the green flag.
"That put me on the pole, which was fun," Coughlin said. "We led some laps, too, and that's always cool to be out front."
Coughlin led the first 11 laps as his parents, John and Di, and his sister Kennedy cheered him on.
"I know they were yelling as loud as anyone in the grandstands," Coughlin said. "It's so cool to have them there, supporting me and encouraging me. It's such a blessing to have them behind me all the time."
During the middle portion of the race, the tough Rockford Speedway reared its ugly head, and Coughlin was bounced down the order. Twenty-one cars racing on the tight track can make traffic a big problem, and drivers can often be impatient. But despite the storm around him, Coughlin raced steady.
"In the middle of the race, it got kind of hectic, and I got bumped around a little bit," Coughlin said. "We got shuffled back to about 10th, and I had to regroup and charge back up there. Toward the end, I got back up to the top five and kept battling with all those guys and got by them."
Crew chief Rich Lushes set the JEGS Chevrolet up to be at its best in the closing laps of the race, and Coughlin was able to challenge for the lead.
"The car was pretty good all night," Coughlin said. "I stayed patient, raced hard and was able to get by most of them – except one."
With 10 laps to go, Coughlin raced into second place and was about seven car lengths behind Jones. That gap was erased with a late caution, putting Coughlin beside Jones on a restart.
"I was definitely thinking about winning, and I was thinking about moving him," Coughlin said. "But I thought I'd be the gentleman and not do that. I could've let the car go up, and I could've hit him from behind pretty easily, but I decided not to."
Coughlin raced Jones clean and despite repeated attempts to get the lead, he took the checkered flag in second.
"I want to race people clean, and I want them to race me clean, too," Coughlin said. "Moving people will come back to haunt you if you do it."