Joey Coulter entered the sixth race on the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on a mission to make monster-sized strides not only on the field, but in the points as well. After starting 24th, the Toyota Racing driver advanced more positions after 200 miles than any other driver in the field – gaining 16 spots on the Dover high-banks – to bring home his second top-10 finish in three starts at the “Monster Mile,” and second top 10 of the 2013 Truck Series season.
“It was a great day for the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra team,” said Coulter. “Qualifying definitely didn’t go our way, but we picked up a lot of positions on track, just like we needed to do. The guys on pit road did a great job getting me good track position each time and Harold (Holly, crew chief) made good pit calls and kept making the right adjustments on the truck. It was just a great recovery from qualifying by the entire team, a solid point’s day and I couldn’t be happier for this entire team. We needed a good weekend and we just kept digging, no one gave up, worked hard and came out of here with a top 10.”
At a race track where track position is critical and passing is minimal, Coulter knew he had his hands full going into Friday night’s Lucas Oil 200. Starting the 200-lap event from the 24th position, the Florida native made the best of the trucks in front of him in the opening laps and following the first caution at lap two for a three-truck accident in Turn 3, the 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota was scored 15th.
In the early stages of the event, Coulter found that his Toyota Tundra was “free in the center of the corner and off,” so when the field was slowed for the second time on lap 45 for a spin on the backstretch, crew chief Harold Holly brought the No. 18 machine down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Solid work by the over-the-wall crew allowed the 18 to gain one spot on pit road. When racing resumed on lap 50, the 18 was scored ninth.
Over the course of the long green flag run Coulter radioed into his crew that his Tundra was “free on landing and snug in the center and on exit.” It wasn’t until a scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 125 that Coulter was able to bring his Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra to pit road for adjustments. Four tires including an air pressure adjustment, fuel and a trackbar adjustment were administered to aid in the handling. When the 36-truck field cycled through pit stops at lap 147, Coulter was scored eighth.
Although, the 18 machine was good to go on fuel to the end, when the fourth caution flag was displayed on lap 160 for debris in turn 3, Holly made the call to bring the Tundra down pit road for tires. Considering tires are critical on the abrasive 1-mile oval, four tires and a splash of fuel were the call for the 18 team. When racing resumed on lap 163, Coulter was scored seventh.
In the closing laps, Coulter was happy with the handling of his Toyota Tundra and the lap times proved it – gaining two positions on track before the field was slowed for the sixth and final time at lap 193 for an accident in Turn 3. With track position at a premium, Coulter stayed out for the final restart with four laps remaining, scored fifth.
When the field entered Turn 1 on the lap-196 restart, Coulter on the high side was blocked by the 17 machine on the bottom and shuffled back to the eighth position, which is where he crossed the start/finish line at lap 200.
Kyle Busch owner-driver of the No. 51 entry for Kyle Busch Motorsports won the 14th Annual Lucas Oil 200, his second consecutive win of 2013 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and 16th win as an owner-driver for KBM. Matt Crafton (second) posted his sixth top 10 finish this season. Ryan Blaney (third) was the highest finishing rookie, posting his first top-10 finish in his debut at Dover International Speedway. Chase Elliott and Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top five, respectively. Teammate Darrell Wallace, Jr. led a race-high 119 laps and finished 10th.
The field was slowed six times during the 200-lap event for 29 laps and the lead was exchanged seven times between six different drivers. KBM drivers Kyle Busch and Darrell Wallace, Jr. led 169 of the 200 laps in the sixth race on the 2013 schedule.
Coulter’s strong performance allowed the 22-year-old driver to gain valuable points in the 2013 NCWTS driver point standings. The No. 18 remains 11th, but a mere three points outside the top 10, 28 markers behind fifth-place Ryan Blaney and 72 points behind series leader Matt Crafton.
The NCWTS heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Friday night’s WinStar World Casino 400. Coulter has four starts at the 1.5-mile track and is the only Truck Series driver to finish in the top-10 in all four races. Live television coverage of the 31st Annual Truck Series event at TMS will air live on SPEED at 9 p.m. ET.