The Mercy Masters of the Pros 144 at Missouri’s Lebanon I-44 Speedway is a unique event. Not only does it give a green jacket to the winner, but it is also a difficult track to pass on. Cody Coughlin found that out first-hand on Saturday in the Show-Me state.
Starting 20th, the 19-year-old Coughlin never gave up. Despite a “tight” handling race car, he drove up to a 12th-place finish.
“We struggled with the handle and that made it even more difficult to pass,” said Coughlin, a Joe Gibbs Racing development driver. “It’s difficult to pass anywhere in these Crate cars. You really have to have track position. I think you can get away with a mediocre car and good track position as opposed to bad track position and a perfect car. We didn’t have track position or a perfect car, so that was pretty difficult, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort by our team.
“Nick (Easton), Kevin (Hamlin), Scott (Wimmer) and Dave (Holt) had this car perfect last week at Columbus, but unfortunately that race got postponed due to weather. This week we just didn’t hit it and that will happen sometimes. I just can’t wait to get back to the racetrack again.”
Coughlin has many more events on his slate for this year to gain the valuable experience he needs to continue his ascension to the top tiers of NASCAR racing.
“We are looking forward to the rest of this year. Hopefully we’ll have a little luck on our side and the good Lord will keep us safe as I continue to take steps in my racing career,” said Coughlin. “I’m thrilled that I’ll have my mother (Di), father (John), and my sister (Kennedi) with me because family means a lot to me.”
At this point of the season, Coughlin has already garnered two pole awards in the ARCA Racing Series, a front-row start at Daytona Int’l Speedway (FL) and a season-best second-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway (AL).
Teamjegs.com contributed to this report.