Joey Coulter and the No. 21 Allegiant Travel team turned up the heat in Texas and collected their second consecutive top-10 finish, finishing ninth in Friday night's WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Making his seventh start at the 1.5-mile oval, Coulter and the Jeff Stankiewicz-led crew worked on overall handling during both practice sessions on Thursday evening. Like a majority of the 27-truck NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) field, Coulter's No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado was, "loose in and off and snug through the center." Following a combination of 32 laps on-track, in both practice sessions, Coulter and his GMS Racing crew were able to make some changes to the Allegiant Travel machine, leaving them confident in their Chevrolet Silverado in race trim for Friday night's 167-lap showdown.
For only the third time this season, the NCWTS was able to participate in Keystone Light knockout pole qualifying. Following the first 25-minute segment, Coulter was able to place his Allegiant Travel Silverado sixth on the board overall and transferred to round two - a 10 minute session. With 24 trucks jockeying for 12 positions, a majority of the field waited until less than two minutes remaining in the session before charging onto the fast, high-banked oval. With getting a good draft being key to a fast lap, Coulter was unable to get the draft he needed to transfer to the final round and settled for a 19th-place start in Friday night's main event.
When the 167-lap, 250.5-mile race began, Coulter radioed into his crew that, "we have some ground to make-up guys, but we can do it," and that is just what the Miami Springs, Florida native did. The 23-year-old driver, who turns 24 on Sunday, made his way up to the 14th position before the first caution flag was displayed for an accident on the backstretch at lap 36. Fighting the same conditions from practice, Coulter took flight down pit road for four Goodyear tires and fuel. Quick work by the GMS Racing crew allowed the "birthday boy" to gain one position on pit road and take the lap 39 restart from the 13th position.
Coulter was able to make his way up to the 11th position in the next 16 circuits before the third caution flag was displayed at lap 55 for oil on the track. With his entry better, but still tight in the center, crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz brought the No. 21 machine to pit road to top it off with fuel. When racing resumed on lap 64, Coulter was scored ninth.
As a long green-flag run progressed over the final 58 laps, Coulter and his GMS Racing crew began talking fuel strategy. With less than 10 laps remaining, some of the front runners began making their way to pit road, forcing the hand of many others. Stankiewicz made the call to keep the No. 21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet out on the track and take the gamble. With three laps remaining, Coulter was up to the third position, and looked strong to bring home his track-best finish. Unfortunately, the GMS Racing Silverado slowed on the fronstretch coming out of Turn 4 and Coulter would take the checkered flag in the ninth position, his fifth top-10 at the Fort Worth, Texas track.
Joey Coulter Quote:
"We had a pretty good night; it was a lot of hard work though. We struggled a little bit in practice, but we knew we had a pretty good truck. We didn't get the start we wanted but I was pretty happy with the truck in the race. With the heat and this tire combination, it gets pretty ill to driver after a few laps, but it puts on a pretty good race I think. All and all it was a good night. The guys did a good job on pit road, I just wish the fuel gamble would have worked out for us and we were a few spots better."
GMS Racing PR