Coulter comes up short on fuel and finishes 23rd at Chicago
Although Friday night's EnjoyIllinois.com 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race fell on one of two Friday the 13th's in 2013, Joey Coulter, driver of the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra, was optimistic entering the 16th race on the schedule. Following a solid sixth-place qualifying effort - his sixth top-10 start in 2013 - the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) driver was handicapped just prior to the halfway mark in the 150-lap event, when his No. 18 Toyota Tundra ran out of fuel on the backstretch. Forced to pit under green, a culmination of events never allowed Coulter to gain track position and the KBM team was relegated to a 23rd-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill..
"Well the results don't show it, but we had a really fast truck tonight," Coulter said, "We started off the night with a solid qualifying effort, but just fell back early on because the truck was just so tight. We got caught a couple laps down early in the race because we ran out of gas a lap early and although we were able to get one lap back and be in position for the 'Lucky Dog,' the caution flags just never played in our favor before we had to pit again. Harold (Holly, crew chief) made good adjustments on this Toyota Tundra throughout the night to keep the truck fast - I think the second part of the race we were just as fast as Kyle (Busch). We are just having one of those seasons where we just can't get anything right. Luck definitely wasn't on our side tonight but good to see a KBM truck in victory lane."
Starting from the outside of row three in the sixth position, Coulter lost a couple spots in the opening laps when the Miami Springs, Fla. native went three-wide on lap two. Battling a Toyota Tundra that was "tight in Turns 3 & 4," the No. 18 machine was scored in the ninth position when the first of five caution flags were displayed for a spin on the backstretch. With instructions to, "follow the leaders if they come," Coulter opted to stay out on the race track with the leaders and took the lap-18 restart from the fourth position.
Continuing to battle a Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra that was "too tight over the bumps," Coulter began to search the race track for better handling and ultimately fell back as far as 12th before running out of fuel on the backstretch at lap 46. Limping his way around the track, Coulter was forced to bring his No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports machine to pit road on lap 47 for fuel only in an effort to not lose too much track position.
Fortunately, for Coulter, the second caution flag was displayed on lap 48 for oil on the track, which allowed the No. 18 to catch up with the field on the restart. The KBM Tundra took the lap-52 restart from the 28th position, two laps down to the race leader.
Coulter was able to gain two positions before the third yellow flag was displayed on lap 69 for oil on the track. Crew chief Harold Holly was forced to bring his driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment to aid in the handling. When racing resumed on lap 72, Coulter was scored in the 26th position two laps down.
Coulter would remain two laps down to the race leader until the fifth caution flag was displayed on lap 101 for a one-truck accident on the frontstretch. Holly rolled the dice and opted for the "wave around" - allowing the No. 18 Tundra to get one of his laps back. Coulter took the lap-107 restart from the 26th position.
Battling the No. 07 truck for position Coulter was able to prevail and took over the "Lucky Dog" seed at lap 108. Unfortunately, another caution was never displayed and the No. 18 Toyota was forced to pit under green for right side tires and fuel at lap 130.
With 20 laps remaining in the 150-lap event, the 23-year-old driver was able to advance three positions on track before taking the checkered flag from the 23rd position, two laps down to the race winner.
Owner-driver Kyle Busch won the fifth annual EnjoyIllinois.com 225 at Chicagoland Speedway, his fourth victory in 2013 and his third win in the "Windy City." Brad Keselowski (second) crossed the stripe 0.338 seconds behind Busch - his second top-five of 2013. Ryan Blaney, Matt Crafton and Ty Dillon rounded out the top-five finishers.
Darrell Wallace, Jr. finished 11th in his Chicagoland Speedway debut.
The field was slowed five times for 27 laps and four different drivers exchanged the lead 12 times in the EnjoyIllinois.com 225.
Following his 23rd-place finish, Coulter drops to 13th in the 2013 NCWTS driver's point standings; 26 markers behind 10th-place Brendan Gaughan, 70 points behind fifth-place Ryan Blaney and 152 markers behind series point leader Matt Crafton.
The NCWTS will take a week off before heading west for the Smith's 350 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 28. Coulter, who will have GunBroker.com back on the No. 18 Toyota Tundra, has two starts at the 1.5-mile oval including one pole (2012) and one top-five finish (3rd, 2012).
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