Joey Coulter traded in his fire suit for fatigues on Thursday before making his way to Michigan International Speedway (MIS) for the Michigan National Guard 200. "Private Coulter" spent the day with the men and women of Fort Custer Training Center in Augusta, Mich. and experienced first-hand a day in the life of a new recruit in the National Guard.
Much like NASCAR teams, the National Guard is a team, and they are taught in basic training how to work together in times of trouble to accomplish a mission. Coulter's mission seemed simple this weekend, but quickly changed when he was forced to a backup truck in final practice on Friday. However, he and his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsport's team accepted the challenge and worked together to bring home a 14th-place finish in the 12th race on the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule - Coulter's eighth top-15 finish of 2013.
"I hate that we had to get the backup truck out this weekend," said Coulter. "Our primary truck was so good, but Harold and all the guys on this No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsport's team did a great job getting the backup ready for today. We had a solid qualifying effort and knew we were going to have to work on it to get it dialed-in for the race. Unfortunately, the back-up truck lacked the side force that the primary had and we just struggled with an aero-tight Toyota Tundra all day. I hate that we didn't have a better showing for the Truck Series' first race on America's New sports network, but I have to thank everyone at FOX Sports 1 for allowing me to carry their colors. We aren't that far back in points and a good run in Bristol next week will put us right back in it."
After finishing fourth in the first NCWTS practice session at MIS on Friday, Coulter knew he had a solid FOX Sports 1 Toyota Tundra. However, after laying down the fifth fastest time in the final practice session of the day, a cut right rear tire would send Coulter hard into the backstretch wall and the No. 18 team would be forced to bring out the back-up truck for Saturday's FOX Sports 1 debut.
Starting ninth on the inside of row five, Coulter was shuffled back to the 16th position on the opening lap when the field went three-wide into Turn 1 and the bottom line didn't move.
After restarting 15th on lap six, following a lap two-truck incident on the backstretch involving the No. 29 and 54 machines, Coulter would use the next 11 laps to evaluate his new trucks performance on track.
Battling an "aero tight" Tundra - a problem that would plague the FOX Sports 1 machine for a majority of the 100-lap event - Harold Holly brought the No. 18 machine down pit road under the second caution at lap 17 for a major chassis adjustment and fuel. When racing resumed on lap 20, Coulter was scored in the 13th position.
A continuous battle on-track with the handling of his backup truck in the draft forced the Miami Springs, Fla. native to lose several positions over the next seven laps. Coulter would be scored in the 17th position when the third caution flag of the afternoon was displayed on lap 27 for an accident in Turn 4 involving three of the front runners.
Coulter would take the lap-32 restart from the 13th position - running as high as 12th before the fourth caution flag was waved for debris. Crew chief Harold Holly would use this opportunity to bring Coulter down pit road on lap 57 for two right side tires, a track-bar adjustment and fuel. However, due to a lengthy pit stop, Holly would opt to bring Coulter back down pit road a lap later - before the field went back to green - for left side tires and to top his Fox Sports 1 Tundra off with fuel. When racing resumed on lap 60, Coulter was scored in the 13th position.
The field was slowed three more times over the next 32 circuits at laps 66, 76 and 92, respectively. Coulter utilized each restart to gain positions on-track and was lined up seventh for the final six-lap stint at lap 94. Unfortunately, the aero-tight condition in traffic would handicap the No. 18 machine and Coulter would lose seven positions to cross the line in the 14th-position.
James Buescher of Turner Scott Motorsports won the 14th Annual Michigan National Guard 200, his first victory and third top-10 finish in five races at MIS. Kyle Busch (second) posted his fourth second-place finish in seven starts at MIS and Ty Dillon (third) posted his second top-10 finish in two starts at MIS. Joey Logano and Miguel Paludo rounded out the top-five finishers.
KBM teammate Darrell Wallace Jr was involved in a lap 27 accident in Turn 4 and relegated to a 21st-place finish, 48 laps down.
The field was slowed seven times for 29 laps and the lead was exchanged 10 times by five different drivers.
Following his 14th-place finish, Coulter remains 11th in the 2013 NCWTS driver's point standings after 12 races; a mere three points outside the top-10, 25 markers behind fifth-place Miguel Paludo and 98 points behind series point leader Matt Crafton.
The NCWTS will make its 13th stop of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway for the UNOH 200 on Wednesday, August 21. Coulter has two starts at the.533-mile oval, including one top-five and two top-10 finishes.