Pulling away after a strong restart with seven laps left in Saturday's Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono Raceway, Joey Coulter notched his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory, beating James Buescher to the finish line by 1.224 seconds.
Coulter charged from third to first moments after a restart on Lap 44 of 50 at the 2.5-mile triangular track, after a caution on Lap 39 that took series leader Timothy Peters out of the race. Peters was racing through the tunnel turn, got loose beneath another truck and spun into the wall, as two separate incidents in the same corner damaged five cars.
"As soon as the spotter said 'green,' I put the foot to the floor and just let the ECR Chevrolet horsepower do the rest," Coulter said. "We needed to make moves quick. Track position was real important.
"It was new pavement [since last year's Truck race], and it picked the speeds up, but it sure did make it hard to pass. I knew we had to get it done right there, or we weren't going to have a second chance at it."
Third-place finisher and pole-sitter Nelson Piquet Jr., who led 33 laps and brought the field to green for the final time, said restarts are complicated at Pocono, which features the longest straightaway in NASCAR racing at 3,740 feet.
"The last restart was a bit of a problem," Piquet said. "It's so wide. I didn't know if I would defend on my left -- Coulter -- or if I would try to keep my line with James next to me, and it ended up being three-wide in the first corner.
"That was it. I lost all my position -- still recovered to third. But it was a shame. Obviously, we had a fast truck, the quickest one out there. All we wanted to do was win."
Matt Crafton and Denny Hamlin finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Ty Dillon, Parker Kligerman, John Wes Townley, Justin Lofton and Ross Chastain completed the top 10.
Piquet survived a run-in with Todd Bodine, who surged forward after a restart on Lap 34 but turned across the nose of Piquet's Chevrolet when he moved down the track into Piquet's line.
"I'll take the blame for that whole thing just because I should have known better than to trust an idiot to do the right thing," Bodine said. "I pulled down to draft off of James and I should have known that Nelson wasn't smart enough to pull over with me and side-draft me.
"If it was the last lap of the race, I could see that. He thinks he owes me one anyway from Kansas, I think it was, but it's a shame."
Piquet dismissed Bodine's suggestion.
"It was right at the exit of the corner, James was to my outside, and they passed me to the outside, so I didn't even have time to tuck behind [Bodine]," Piquet explained. "His spotter should have told him that I was beside him.
"There's nothing I could have done. I was never expecting something like that. The move he did was a bit inexperienced. You would expect somebody like me to do something like that. [Piquet is in his second full NCWTS season; Bodine is a two-time series champion.]
"It was after a corner, after a restart -- everybody's kind of chaotic over there. Not much to say. I couldn't have done anything else."
1. Joey Coulter, Chevrolet, 50, $34,800.
2. James Buescher, Chevrolet, 50, $24,565.
3. Nelson Piquet Jr., Chevrolet, 50, $25,685.
4. Matt Crafton, Toyota, 50, $14,950.
5. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 50, $11,475.
6. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 50, $12,400.
7. Parker Kligerman, RAM, 50, $10,900.
8. John Wes Townley, Toyota, 50, $10,675.
9. Justin Lofton, Chevrolet, 50, $10,625.
10. Ross Chastain, Toyota, 50, $11,825.
11. Jason White, Ford, 50, $10,500.
12. Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 50, $10,375.
13. Miguel Paludo, Chevrolet, 50, $10,325.
14. Cale Gale, Chevrolet, 50, $10,275.
15. Timothy George Jr., Chevrolet, 50, $11,225.
16. C.E. Falk, Chevrolet, 49, $10,050.
17. Bryan Silas, Ford, 49, $9,950.
18. Chris Fontaine, Chevrolet, 49, $9,825.
19. Ron Hornaday Jr., Chevrolet, 47, $9,725.
20. Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 47, $8,050.
21. Kyle Martel, Chevrolet, 47, $7,275.
22. Timothy Peters, Toyota, 40, $8,175.
23. Wes Burton, Chevrolet, Accident, 39, $7,075.
24. Paulie Harraka, Ford, Accident, 38, $8,000.
25. Sean Corr, Ford, Accident, 37, $7,115.
26. Todd Bodine, Toyota, Accident, 33, $6,925.
27. Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 28, $7,900.
28. Dennis Setzer, Chevrolet, Handling, 18, $6,875.
29. Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, Engine, 11, $6,850.
30. Brandon Knupp, Chevrolet, Vibration, 8, $7,325.
31. Jeff Agnew, Toyota, Vibration, 7, $6,800.
32. Scott Riggs, Chevrolet, Overheating, 6, $6,775.
33. Adam Edwards, Chevrolet, Vibration, 5, $6,750.
34. Chris Jones, Chevrolet, Vibration, 3, $6,725.
35. Chris Lafferty, RAM, Accident, 1, $6,700.
36. Jennifer Jo Cobb, RAM, Engine, 0, $6,672.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 121.523 mph.
Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 01 Mins, 43 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.224 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 3 for 12 laps.
Lead Changes: 7 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: N. Piquet Jr. 1-21; J. Buescher 22; T. Peters 23-24; J. White 25-26; N. Piquet Jr. 27-33; J. Buescher 34-38; N. Piquet Jr. 39-43; J. Coulter 44-50.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led)
N. Piquet Jr. 3 times for 33 laps
J. Coulter 1 time for 7 laps
J. Buescher 2 times for 6 laps
J. White 1 time for 2 laps
T. Peters 1 time for 2 laps
Top 10 in Points
1. T. Peters - 418
2. T. Dillon - 410
3. J. Buescher - 403
4. J. Lofton - 400
5. M. Crafton - 385
6. P. Kligerman - 383
7. J. Coulter - 369
8. R. Hornaday Jr. - 359
9. N. Piquet Jr. - 345
10. J. White - 329
NASCARmedia.com, photo courtesy of NASCARmedia.com