November 30, 2011
PENSACOLA, Fla. — Cody Coughlin and the JEGS.com Chevrolet team will be gunning for one of the most sought-after trophies in Late Model racing when they compete in the Allen Turner Snowflake 100, today through Saturday, at Five Flags Speedway.
The Snowflake 100 is part of the annual Snowball Derby held at the 1/2-mile oval. Coughlin is coming off a solid season in the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour, where he won the series’ Rookie of the Year award and finished a lofty sixth in the overall points standings.
Now, the 15-year-old Coughlin will compete against the best Late Model drivers in the country in the 100-lap race.
“It’s very exciting to compete in the biggest one of the year,” Coughlin said. “The area down there is very pretty, and we’re staying close to the beach, so it’ll be nice to see the water. There’s usually great weather there, too, so that’s cool.
“If you can bring home the biggest Late Model trophy of the year, that would be definitely icing on the cake. I’m very excited.”
JEGS.com Chevrolet crew chief Rich Lushes echoed Coughlin’s sentiment.
“This is the biggest short rack race in America,” Lushes said. “To run well here is very prestigious. It would be a big honor to run well. It’s what everybody shoots for every year.”
Coughlin and the No. 1 JEGS.com Chevrolet team tested at Five Flags last week, with Coughlin running competitive times in his first visit to the track.
“We had a really good test,” Lushes said. “We came back and made a couple adjustments, and we’re going back to test next Tuesday. Cody adapted to the race track really fast, and we had a really good test there.”
Getting extra advice from driving coach Gary St. Amant — a two-time winner of the Snowball Derby — Coughlin learned the proper line around the half-mile track.
“It’s similar in shape and size to Toledo,” Coughlin said. “Obviously, the pavement is worn out more than Toledo, but one lap or two, it’s got about the same grip. Gary was telling me how to save the tires, to be easy on the throttle, and I did that. We were able to go a long time, and it was pretty racy.
“I’m feeling good about it. We all adapted fairly well, as a team, to the track. I’m looking forward to running well there.”
Coughlin will sport a special paint scheme for the race, with Santa Claus sharing space on the bright yellow No. 1 Chevrolet. Lushes worked with Speed Media to design the paint scheme.
“It’s extremely special to have a paint job like that because they have an award for whoever has the best-looking Christmas paint scheme,” Coughlin said. “But it also draws a lot of attention to our car, and that’s good promotion for JEGS. I think people will be excited about it. It’s a really cool paint scheme.”
Coughlin would love nothing more than to park his car in victory lane, and his confidence is high.
“From what I’ve been told, for how long we ran and the times we ran, they were really good times,” Coughlin said. “I think we have a good shot at a top-five and hopefully a win. It doesn’t pay any points or anything, so we’re going to go for it, obviously. It’d be a great place to get our first win — at the biggest race of the year. I think we’ll have a shot at it.”
Lushes said Coughlin has progressed well this season when he posted four top-five and seven top-10 finishes on the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour.
“We’re ahead of schedule for what we made a plan for,” Lushes said. “We can go there and be very competitive. We can run in the top-five. And if you run top-five long enough, sooner or later, everything’s going to fall in line, and you’re going to win a race.”
Coughlin will be joined by his mom Di, his father John and his sister Kennedi for the race.
“There will be a few people down there,” Coughlin said. “I’m not sure who all is going to go, but I’m sure there will be a few from my family. That’s always exciting, because it’s always great to have the family with us.
“Thank the Lord for all he’s done for us. Hopefully a lot of people from our family come down to watch us because it’s always fun to have them around.”