CP MOTORSPORTS - THIRD-GEN COUGHLIN LEARNING CIRCLE TRACK LESSONS
One aspect which made the Coughlin family known for their success in drag racing was the ability to learn from those who have gone before them. Cody Coughlin doesn't drag race but believes the tradition to be applicable even if one races in circles.
The third generation competitor, who drives the No. 55 Toyota sponsored by the family's Jegs Mail Order Parts business in the ARCA Series, says he's learning by leaning on those with more experience.
Coughlin is racing Talladega today for the first time and while he's inexperienced on the 2.66-mile oval, he crew chief Dave Leiner, the Venturini Motorsports crew and longtime Team JEGS manager Kevin Hamlin possess a wealth of knowledge.
"Kevin has been a great mentor to me and has really helped my development on and off the track," said Coughlin. "We have had many conversations about Talladega, just like we did before the Daytona race back in February. I learned a lot that day about racing in the draft and how to be patient. I am eager to show what I have learned."
Hamlin is a former crew chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 488 starts, nine wins, 48 top-five's and 126 top-10 finishes. Most of his victories came as the last crew chief for the late Dale Earnhardt. He was on top of the pit box as Earnhardt won three of the four races at Talladega in 1999 and 2000. The Fall victory in 2000 was Earnhardt's final career victory.
"Earnhardt knew how to work the draft," Hamlin recalled. "We would go to Talladega and the car would be junk, but somehow he figured out a way to get a win or a top-five finish."
Hamlin's advice to the 19-year-old driver from Delaware, Ohio is simple.
"You need to be smart and make sure you are there at the end of the race," Hamlin explained. "The biggest thing is keeping your fenders on all of the corners of the car. Talladega is one where you aren't racing the whole time, just at the end. You want to try to position yourself during the race to be up there and battle. Some will stay up towards the front and others may fall back and see how their car can get up there towards the end."
At the Daytona ARCA event back in February, Coughlin led the first eight laps and stayed in the top-five throughout the race before finishing fourth, missing third by a bumper at the line.
Coughlin is a developmental driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.