With only five races remaining on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule, Joey Coulter and the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team headed to the "Last Wild Card" race, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, for the fred's 250 powered by Coca-Cola. The 2.66-mile superspeedway produces high speed, high drama and unpredictable racing from lap to lap - a race that can take you from the back of the pack to leading in just one lap - a driver's recipe for success at the Alabama-track, is to stay out of the "Big One."
Coulter, who was making his third career Truck Series start in Saturday's feature event at Talladega, tried to follow that recipe for success. The 23-year-old driver started ninth and spent the first 25 laps inside the top 10 before being shuffled as far back as 33rd in the 36-truck field. However, it wasn't long before the Miami Springs, Fla. native found his KBM teammate, Parker Kligerman, and the duo danced their way to the front of the field, eventually leading a lap. Unfortunately, a late race accident on lap 81 of 94 led to one of the "Big Ones" and Coulter was relegated to a 27th-place finish in the 17th race on the 2013 NCWTS schedule.
Starting on the inside of row five in the ninth position, Coulter spent the opening 20 laps inside the top-10, running as high as fourth, until the second caution flag of the afternoon was displayed on lap 21 for debris on the frontstretch. Coulter, who said his Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra was "Dancy through the tri-oval and a touch free," brought his machine to pit road for two right side tires, a trackbar adjustment and fuel. Pit strategy and quick work by his over-the-wall crew allowed Coulter to restart eighth on lap 24.
Lined up on the outside of the fourth row for the restart, Coulter was shuffled back to 33rd just one lap later when the No. 62 of Brendan Gaughan made it three-wide going through Turn 2. However, it wasn't long before Coulter found his KBM teammate and the 2012 Talladega Superspeedway winner, Parker Kligerman, and together the two went from 32nd to 12th by lap 34 and then No. 18 was scored as the race leader on lap 35.
Shortly after his rise to the top another two-truck tandem broke through and Coulter settled in to the third position on lap 37. Hugging the bottom line, Coulter remained inside the top-10 for the next 18 circuits, until a scheduled green flag stop on lap 55. However, making his way on to pit road with his KBM teammates, the No. 82 machine of Sean Corr spun and clipped the right front nose of the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra, bringing out the third caution of the afternoon. Crew chief Harold Holly called for four tires, fuel and the No. 18 crew went to work on the right front nose damage.
In an effort not to lose the draft or a lap around the 2.66-mile track, Coulter made two more trips down pit road at laps 57 and 58, respectively, during the four-lap caution period to make sure the nose on his Tundra was fully repaired. Holly assured his driver, "you can still do this - we are still going for it."
When racing resumed on lap 60, Coulter was scored in the 25th position. Trying to find a "dancing partner," the No. 18 machine got hung out on the outside line and was shuffled back to 31st by lap 64. Three laps later, a six truck accident broke out in Turn 3 bringing out the fourth caution on lap 67. Holly called his driver to pit road for fuel only and when racing resumed on lap 73, Coulter was scored in the 16th position.
With only 21 laps remaining, Coulter knew he needed to put himself in position to get back to the front and as the action heated up on the race track, so did the intensity. Scored 12th, Coulter found his way to the bottom line and was working the draft when the 9 truck of Ron Hornaday clipped the 6 truck of Justin Lofton causing a multi-truck accident on the backstretch. Ultimately, James Buescher in the 31 was sent spinning up the track and with nowhere to go, Coulter made contact with the battered 31 machine. With extensive damage to the nose of the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra, Coulter was sidelined for the remainder of the event and credited with a 27th-place finish.
"We had a really good Tundra," Coulter said after being treated and released from the infield care center, "it's just the way this place works unfortunately. You're up front at some point, in the back at some point and everywhere in between. We got up to the front there with some help from Parker (Kligerman) and led a lap, kind of ran up front some, got shuffled around and then started having radio trouble at the end. When the 31 (James Buescher) got turned around I didn't have anywhere to go and couldn't really hear where my spotter was telling me to go. Overall, we had a really good truck, good day, just superspeedway racing. It's kind of wrong place at the wrong time most of the time."
Johnny Sauter scored his first win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in Saturday afternoon's 8th Annual fred's 250 powered by Coca-Cola. David Starr (second) posted his second top-10 finish in eight races at the Alabama track. Ross Chastain (third) posted his first top-five finish in two races at Talladega Superspeedway. 2012 winner, Parker Kligerman finished fourth and Dakoda Armstrong (fifth) scored his career-best finish.
Coulter's KBM teammates, Kyle Busch and Darrell Wallace, Jr were involved in a last lap accidently on the frontstretch and crossed the line 10th and 17th, respectively.
The 36-truck field was slowed seven times for 29 laps and the lead was exchanged 29 times by 13 different drivers.
After a dismal finish in the fred's 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, Coulter falls to 14th in the 2013 NCWTS driver point standings with 506 points; 47 markers behind 10th-place Brendan Gaughan, 86 points behind fifth-place Miguel Paludo and 174 markers behind series point leader Matt Crafton.
The NCWTS will head to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for the second time this season next weekend for the Kroger 200 on Saturday, Oct. 26. In five previous starts, Coulter has two top-five finishes. The 30th Annual Truck Series event at the Virginia "Paperclip" airs on FOX Sports 1 at 1:30 p.m. ET.