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One-time Christmas gift turns Coffey into future racing phenom

`By Derrick Mahone

dmahone@news-daily.com

Four years ago, Doug Coffey called his son, Alex, into the family's garage. Awaiting the then 8-year-old McDonough native on Christmas Day was a Bandolero racing car.

"It was the best Christmas gift I had ever got," the youngster said inside the garage at Atlanta Motor Speedway Thursday. Coffey, 12, has put that race car to good use.

For the second week in a row, Coffey won the Marco's Pizza Bandits division at Thursday Thunder at AMS. It was his first two wins at AMS since he started racing in 2007. His previous best was third during Week 9 of the racing season.

He finished fifth in the points standing with 861 in 10 races.

"The biggest difference is seat time," Doug Coffey said. "He has gotten better with more experience in the driver's seat. I'm very proud of him because he has come a long way. Alex has paid his dues and it is starting to pay off."

A former little league football player, now the younger Coffey is fully committed to racing. His dad said the overlap between the two sports forced him to chose one.

Doug, and his brother, Bubba, use to bring the younger Coffey to Thursday Thunder to watch the races. When he became of age, Doug decided to invest in a car for his son.

"My brother and I use to race go-carts growing up, and our dad use to race as a youngster," Doug said. "He is a third generation racer. Alex fell in love with it when we started bring him to the track."

The younger Coffey agreed that his experience is the difference.

"The first year, I got into a lot of wreaks," he said. "I have gotten better every year. I was young and inexperience. I was somewhat scared."

Alex's hard work is paying off with consecutive trips to the winner's circle. He got some good news earlier in the week when Jackson Towing became a sponsor of his red No. 7 car.

"This will help a out a lot for us," Doug said.

Although he has won the poll in qualifying the last two weeks, Alex has had to race from behind because of invert start. Last week, he came from last to win. This week, he started at the No. 8 spot to win.

Thursday, Coffey took the lead after the third lap and held on for 10 laps. After a restart from a caution flag, Reed Atchett, 11, of Knoxville, took the lead.

It didn't last long as Coffey retook the lead to hold on until the checkered flag.

"I knew he was going to get me," Atchett said. "He is real good. He got me on the restart."