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FYI WIRZ:   By Dwight Drum
Web work by Larsen & Drum    Images by Dwight Drum and JEGS.com
Cody Coughlin meets with Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart in their NASCAR haulers
FYI WIRZ: Cody Coughlin brings NHRA legacy, gets top NASCAR mentors

JEGS has been all about speed since Jeg Coughlin Sr. founded high a performance parts company more than 50 years ago to compensate his growing drag racing hobby. Coughlin’s four sons, John, Mike, Troy and Jeg Jr. with dad propelled the mail order firm into an international giant touting top service with aggressive advertising.

Along the way the speedy family has raced nearly every class in NHRA drag racing and continues to be a visible force in Sportsman ranks today.

Only in past few years has JEGS ventured beyond its drag racing roots into NASCAR where they are a contingency sponsor In Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.

This September JEGS also brought their bright yellow and black logo to Kevin Harvick’s No. 2 Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet in Loudon, New Hampshire.

JEGS plans to race in NHRA, but they may have thoughts beyond.

John’s son, 14-year-old Cody, has straight speed experience too but has chosen a more winding path, and hopes to conquer the ever-present corners in stock car racing.

Young Coughlin won in USAC’s .25 Midget Series in 2009 and graduated to racing a Late Model car in 2010. He aspires to be in NASCAR.

“I’ve watched Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart,” Coughlin said. “I’ve always wanted to be like those guys.”

Stepping into a Late Model Car has required tutoring and this is where the family business has been a huge boost. He has two-time ASA champion, Gary St. Amant, as car chief and racing instructor. St. Amant once helped good friend Jimmie Johnson on his way to stardom.

But NASCAR star dust has twinkled for JEGS beyond that fortunate circumstance.

At New Hampshire Motor Speedway father and son were guests of NASCAR marketing staff for private hauler meet-and-greet moments with Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart. Cody and dad got advice and questions answered.

Cody understands his legacy, knows his responsibilities to boost and carry on the family business.

“It’s for the business,” Coughlin said. “That’s not the reason I chose circle tracks, but it also helps.”

He may be only a few years into left turns, but he is getting crucial hands-on advice from some of NASCAR’s best.

Early in Thanksgiving week young Cody Coughlin met up slightly older Landon Cassill, 21, on New Smyrna Speedway in Florida to test his late model stock car. Cassill was the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year and raced in Sprint Cup this year.

"Cody did a great job, he made great improvements, and was actually very close to the same lap times that I ran," Cassill said. "I focused on showing him how to break the corner down into sections and give proper feedback to his crew chief. I think he has a lot of potential."

NASCAR drivers Landon Cassill and Kevin Harvick raced the JEGS yellow and black in 2010

Dad Coughlin has been impressed with Cassill’s abilities.

"We've worked with Kenny Wallace and Kevin Harvick in the past, but never on a one-to-one level the way Landon has been with Cody, “ Coughlin said. “Hopefully he'll be free to help mentor Cody some more in 2011."

Cassill has been chosen to pilot the JEGS Late Model entries in the Snowflake and Snowball Derby at Five Flags Raceway in Pensacola, Florida in December. The short .5-mile 13 degree banking is one of the oldest asphalt tracks in the U.S.

The 43rd running of the race has been competition for drivers such as Kyle Busch, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin.

Cody will be assisting and observing as Cassill will compete with NASCAR drivers David Ragan, David Stremme and others. As he learns from Cassill, he continues to dream big.

“I do see myself moving up.” Coughlin said. “I see myself becoming the next Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson.”

With big name help and family business support that benefits from motorsports exposure, he may not be dreaming. He might get there.

But before any bright future rises in a cloudless sky; it's soon time to pack away his helmet after a holiday break -- and pick up his school books for classes.

Cody Coughlin shows off his JEGS.com yellow and black Late Model stock car
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