DELAWARE — JEGS.com Chevrolet driver Cody Coughlin already had high aspirations for 2012 after a solid rookie season in the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour, but the addition of title-winning crew chief Butch VanDoorn has the 16-year-old Coughlin aiming even higher.
Asked about goals for the ‘12 JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour season, Coughlin said two words: “Definitely championship.”
Coughlin was the runaway winner of the series’ Howie Lettow Rookie of the Year Award and finished sixth in the overall points standings after posting four top-fives and seven top-10s in 11 races last year.
Then, in late December, the JEGS.com Chevrolet team added VanDoorn, who was crew chief for last year’s JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour champion and tuned his brother John VanDoorn to CRA Super Series championships in 2009 and 2010.
“There’s no reason why we won’t have a shot at the championship,” Coughlin said. “I think we’ll have a shot at a lot of wins, too.”
Coughlin displayed consistency and maturity beyond his years in 2011, finishing on the lead lap eight times while crashing out of only one race. Those numbers are usually unheard of from such a young driver.
His success caught the eye of VanDoorn, a youngster himself at 19 years old.
“He’s got a lot of potential,” VanDoorn said. “He comes from a racing family, though it was drag racing, so the bar is set high for him. Last year being his first year in a car, he did real well. He’s impressed me at a lot of different tracks.”
VanDoorn was particularly impressed after Coughlin’s performance at Rockford Speedway in Loves Park, Ill. Coughlin started on the pole and fought hard for the victory at the tough quarter-mile track. In the closing laps, Coughlin challenged VanDoorn’s driver, Erik Jones, for the win. Coughlin raced clean and ended up second.
“I want to race people clean, and I want them to race me clean, too,” Coughlin said. “Not racing clean will come back to haunt you if you drive like that.”
That runner-up finish was Coughlin’s best of 2011, though he also had top-fives at Dixie, Owosso and the treacherous Winchester Speedway. He finished in the top 10 in seven of the last eight races.
“I am thankful to God and to my family for a great season last year,” Coughlin said. “But I also want to keep building on our success and contend for race wins and the championship. With Butch, we have all the pieces together to do that.”
VanDoorn, too, wants to continue his current streak of three consecutive titles.
“I’d definitely like to continue that streak with Cody,” VanDoorn said. “We’ve got the equipment and everything lined up. I’d like to get some poles, some top-fives, some solid finishes every race and finish every lap to win that championship.”