MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Kansas Speedway in Kansas City will have a different feel when Joey Coulter and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) return to action at the Midwestern track this weekend. Since racing at the 1.5-mile tri-oval in April of 2012, the track went through a massive renovation project that included a repave to the racing surface. The old, worn-out pavement was stripped away and the result is a paved tri-oval with variable banking. Although the Truck Series will make its debut on the new racing surface this weekend in the SFP 250, NASCAR’s premier division, the Sprint Cup Series, was called to action in the “Sunflower State” and completed 267-laps on the new surface last October. Many of NASCAR’s veteran driver’s compare the “new track” to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, saying its “smooth and fast with a lot of grip.”
Coulter who captured his first Truck Series victory at Pocono and his first of three poles at Michigan is looking forward to the series debut on the new racing surface. Prior to his success at both tracks, the 2.5-mile triangle in Long Pond, Pa. and the 2-mile track in Brooklyn, Mich. were both freshly repaved. So, while many repaves come with criticism from the NASCAR family of drivers, Coulter will embrace the new surface and continue his climb in the Truck Series driver point standings with his new team at the new track.
Following a 22nd-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Coulter has been playing catch-up in the Truck Series driver point standings. A solid effort by the 22-year-old driver in the last two races has allowed him to progress eight positions in the standings and currently sits 13th overall with 82 points; a mere seven points out of the top 10 and just 18 markers behind fifth-place, Ryan Blaney. Although the young driver has been solid this season – running consistently in the top 10 every week – completing 100% of laps attempted (555 of 555) and producing progressively better finishes each week, the dedicated driver is not where he feels he should be three races into the season with a goal of a driver’s championship on the line.
Making his third start at Kansas Speedway this weekend, Coulter has two top-15 finishes, including a fifth-place finish in 2011. The Florida native knows there is, “no better place than Kansas” to get back on track and bring home his first top-10 finish of the season.
Joey Coulter, Driver of the No. 18 NCWTS Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra:
You haven’t produced the results you probably would have liked in the first three races of 2013, but you are steadily making a climb in the point standings. Can you asses your year so far? “There have been a lot of positives, but no, it hasn’t quite been up to expectations. The thing that we have to step back and look at is the 18 group is a new team this year, not many of the guys have ever worked together before. So, when it comes down to things like pit stops, that chemistry just has to build, it’s not just going to happen overnight. Harold and I have been working together for years but it’s a new team for us too, a new system and new trucks. Like our first year in the Truck Series, it took us five or six races to get going, but once we got rolling it was great. I expect Kansas to be a big turn-around weekend for us and after that I don’t see why we can’t be knocking out consistent top-five finishes and wins after that to get back to where we need to be.”
Harold Holly, Crew Chief of the No. 18 NCWTS Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra:
Kansas Speedway underwent a repave since the last time the Truck Series raced at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. What can the series expect in its debut on the new surface? “With the new surface I think you will see a race similar to what we saw at Michigan last year when it was repaved. NASCAR allowed us to pull that shark fin out last year so it made the speeds incredibly fast at Michigan. The 18 truck did not have it and Kurt (Busch) and the 30 truck were the trucks to beat. From what we have seen, Kansas will be smooth; it has a lot of speed and grip. Obviously track position will be key, it will probably be a fuel-mileage race and you will see a lot more of the draft come into play than what you are used to seeing at Kansas.”
Joey Coulter’s No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra:
Chassis KBM 014: Coulter will pilot KBM 014 in this weekend’s SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway. Built new for the 2013 season, this chassis will debut in Saturday afternoon’s 167-lap event.