Joey Coulter, driver of the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra, showed why he is a contender for the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) driver championship in Saturday afternoonâs SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Starting from the 11th position, Coulter battled his way into the top five before getting caught a lap down early in the 167-lap event, due to a scheduled green-flag pit stop. After receiving the âLucky Dogâ award on lap 91, Coulter went on to lead twice for 15 laps, spending the last 29 laps battling Matt Crafton, the eventual race winner, for the top spot. The 22-year-old driver would finish second in just his third start at the 1.5-mile tri-oval marking his first top-five finish of the 2013 Truck Series season.
âIt was an awesome day for this No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota team,â Coulter said. âI canât say enough about my guys â the pit stops were spot on and Harold (Holly) called a good race with pit strategy. Iâm confident that we were one of the only trucks that could come through the field like we did. The track had so much grip and it was really fast. Those last few laps were the hardest Iâve ever driven. It was a good pointâs day for us and I canât wait to get to Charlotte in a few weeks.â
Starting from the 11th-position, Coulter made ground on the newly paved track in the opening laps, breaking into the top 10 on lap one and up to eighth by lap three. The Florida native remained third until the first caution flag of the afternoon was waved on lap 15 for a spin by the 51 Tundra on the front stretch. Crew chief Harold Holly brought the No. 18 machine down pit road for fuel only and when racing resumed on lap 19, Coulter was scored fourth.
The Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra ran inside the top five for the next 16 circuits, running as high as third, until a two-truck accident in Turn 4 forced Coulter to check-up, ultimately costing the 18 machine five spots on the race track and shuffled him back to the 10th position. Holly decided to keep the 18 Toyota out on track under the fourth caution and Coulter was scored eighth when racing resumed on lap 39.
Making quick work of the trucks in front of him, Coulter gained two positions in the next two laps and passed Sprint Cup Series regular Joey Logano for fifth on lap 59, until being summoned down pit road just seven laps later for a scheduled stop. The over-the-wall crew bolted on four fresh Goodyear tires and filled the 18 Tundra up with fuel, sending him back out onto the track in the 24th position.
As Coulter was making his way back through the field under green, the fifth yellow flag of the afternoon was thrown for debris in Turn 3 and the untimely caution caught the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) entry a lap down in the 13th position. With strategy in play, Holly brought the 18 Toyota Tundra down pit road to top off with fuel and when racing resumed on lap 87 Coulter was the first truck one lap down in the 16th position.
A welcoming opportunity for relief came just four laps later when the 77 and 51 trucks made contact in Turn 2, bringing out the seventh caution of the day and awarding Coulter the âLucky Dog,â putting him back on the lead lap. When the field took the green flag, the No. 18 Toyota Tundra was scored 14th with 73 laps remaining.
Gaining three positions in just five laps, Coulter was on the fast track to breaking back into the top 10 until the field was slowed on lap 105 for debris in Turn 4. Holly used this opportunity to come down pit road for fuel only, setting Coulter up for the final 59 laps. The strategy and fast work by the KBM pit crew allowed the 18 to restart from the 10th position at lap 108.
Just two laps later Coulter was up to the eighth position, but the field was once again slowed for a two-truck accident in Turn 4. As the leaders made their way down pit road for tires and fuel, Coulter made a stop for fuel only, allowing him to take the lead for the lap-118 restart.
Unfortunately, Coulterâs lead was short lived as the 4 truck of Jeb Burton snuck around the 18 machine before the field was slowed at lap 121 and eventually red flagged for 12 minutes, 46 seconds when a three-truck accident in Turn 4 brought out the ninth caution of the afternoon.
Opting to stay out, Coulter restarted second with 42 laps remaining. As the 18 Toyota Tundra made its way off of Turn 4, Coulter passed the 4 truck on lap 126 for the lead, which is where he remained for the next 10 circuits.
Teammate Darrell Wallace Jr. got around Coulter to lead lap 137 and Matt Crafton assumed the lead on lap 138. Coulter went on to battle the 88 machine in a nail-biter for the next 29 circuits but wasnât able to make the pass. Crafton claimed the checkered flag and took home his first victory of 2013. Coulter finished the 167-lap event second, posting his second top-10 finish in three starts at Kansas Speedway.
Ryan Blaney, Brendan Gaughan and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top five.
Teammates, Darrell Wallace, Jr led twice for eight laps and brought his No. 54 Liberty Tire Recycling Toyota Tundra home in the seventh position. Kyle Busch piloted the No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra for the second time this season and after leading 11 laps, was involved in an incident off Turn 2 at lap 91 with the 77 machine and relegated to a 27th-place finish.
Following a solid performance in the fourth event on the 2013 schedule at Kansas Speedway Coulter broke into the top 10 in Truck Series driver point standings and currently sits ninth â a mere 10 points out of the top five and 49 markers behind series point leader Johnny Sauter.
The field was slowed 11 times during the 167-lap event for 52 laps and the lead was exchanged 18 times among 10 drivers.
The NCWTS will take three weeks off before getting back to action at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the 11th Annual North Carolina Education Lottery 200. Coulter has two starts at the 1.5-mile paved track including a track-best seventh in the 2012 event. The event will air live at 8 p.m. ET on SPEED and SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.