For 19-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Cody Coughlin, the Careers for Veterans 200 on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway was a building block for the future.
In his first race with the Kyle Busch Motorsports NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team, Coughlin had everyone’s attention in practice on Friday. He was top-10 on the charts in both sessions and fourth-quickest overall in the final practice, the fastest among the KBM entires.
Coughlin qualified his No. 54 JEGS Tundra in 18th. He was quickly reassured, however, by team-owner Kyle Busch that, “we just don’t qualify that well here for some reason, so you’ll be fine in the race.”
Coughlin was better than fine in the race. Once an “extremely loose” condition was worked out of his truck, he methodically raced his way forward. In fact, he was knocking on the door of a top-10 finish late in the 100-lap event.
The Delaware native was caught up in an incident with a handful of laps to go when his Tundra broke loose. The end result was a 20th-place finish, but the amount that he learned in his first ride with KBM was invaluable.
“I feel like I now know that if I have a good, fast truck then I can go places with it,” said Coughlin. “The end result was not what we wanted, but overall this was a very good day. I learned a lot about how to race my Tundra on this style of racetrack and how the air affects the truck.
“It was an honor to race a Kyle Busch Motorsports truck. I’d like to thank Kyle and everyone for that opportunity. I’d also like to thank my parents (John and Di) because I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and of course my little sister, Kennedi, as well. It was awesome to have her here watching.”
Teamjegs.com contributed to this report.