Cody Coughlin will achieve another personal goal in his racing career as he will make his first start in the ARCA Racing Series International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 this Friday at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway.
While this may be Coughlin’s first start at the famed 2.66-mile oval, he will have experience on his side with his crew chief Dave Leiner and the Venturini Motorsports crew.
But, there will be one additional person on his side with an impressive resume at Talladega, his longtime Team JEGS manager Kevin Hamlin.
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.”
The worst finish the duo had together was third in the spring Talladega race in 2000.
Fast forward to this Friday’s ARCA Racing Series 200-mile event where Hamlin will help Coughlin, a Joe Gibbs Racing Development driver, get to victory lane.
“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 this Friday.”
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.
“I can’t wait to get to Talladega later this week and race again in the draft,” said Coughlin. “Venturini Motorsports has put together some great cars for me and I look forward to get back to competing in an ARCA Racing Series event.”
Along with Hamlin and the Venturini Motorsports team, Coughlin will also have the experience and expertise of longtime NASCAR driver and Scott Wimmer in the spotter’s stand. Wimmer has led laps and finished strong in numerous NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series events during his driving career.
As always, Coughlin will also have the tremendous support of his parents, John and Di, and his sister Kennedi, at Talladega.
“My parents have been great at finding the right people to help me with my racing career and I can’t thank them enough for their help in this area,” said Coughlin. “I am glad they will be there for my first race at Talladega.
“I also want to thank God for who he has blessed us with those who have entered into our lives. They each bring something unique to help with our overall goal.”
Cody Coughlin will be on the track for practice on Friday morning from 8:30-10:20am CT with qualifying at 2:30pm. The green flag for the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 waves at 5pm CT and it will air live on FOX Sports 1.
For more information on Cody Coughlin and Team JEGS, visit www.teamjegs.com and follow Cody on Twitter, @cody_coughlin. You can also follow Team JEGS on Twitter, @TeamJEGS and “Like” JEGS Performance on Facebook.