Richard Childress Racing's Joey Coulter was officially named the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year on Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The 21-year-old Miami Springs, Fla., native clinched Sunoco rookie honors with his fifth-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway following a season-long spirited battle with four other drivers. Coulter entered the season-finale race at Homestead with a five-point lead in the rookie standings over former Formula One driver Nelson Piquet Jr., 20-year-old Red Bull Racing development driver Cole Whitt, 2010 ARCA Racing Series Rookie of the Year Parker Kligerman and Red Horse Racing's Miguel Paludo.
The Sunoco Rookie of the Year award is calculated using a driver's best 14 finishes and a vote by a NCWTS rookie of the year panel that considers a driver's competitive abilities and interaction with other drivers and the media.
"The competition among the Sunoco Rookie of the Year class in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year was unbelievable," said Coulter. "It has been a great season racing with Cole Whitt, Nelson Piquet, Parker Kligerman and Miguel Paludo. It's not a couple of drivers that are really fast - it's at least five or six drivers that were fast on a consistent basis this season. It was really cool to be in such a competitive battle because it makes the award more significant. It means more to win against the people I raced with all season knowing how talented they are. They are awesome competitors and it means a lot to me to win the Sunoco Rookie title."
It is the second consecutive year that RCR has earned the year-end rookie award. Austin Dillon earned the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award for RCR and went on to earn the series' driver's championship this season. The Dillon/Coulter duo mark only the second time in the NCWTS that the same organization has earned both the Rookie of the Year award and the Championship in the same season. Roush-Fenway Racing accomplished the feat with champion Greg Biffle and rookie of the year Kurt Busch in 2000.
"Joey is a very talented young driver who has accomplished a lot of success in every series he has competed in," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing, "We're glad he's carried that tradition at RCR and we look forward to his continued success in 2012."
Coulter joined RCR following a two-year run in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards driving for his family's team. The 21-yar-old mechanical engineering student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte finished seventh in the NCWTS championship point standings this year, earning five top-five and 13 top-10 finishes.
"I'm proud of Joey and the entire team," said crew chief Harold Holly. "We've all worked hard this year and it's great that he was able to clinch the Rookie of the Year title at his home track."
Coulter joins a list of former NCWTS Rookie of the Year winners in addition to his teammate, Austin Dillon, which includes Kurt Busch, Biffle, Carl Edwards, Johnny Sauter, Brendan Gaughan and David Reutimann, among others.
The Sunoco Rookie of the Year award is presented at the annual NNS and NCWTS Awards Banquet at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel on Monday, Nov. 21. SPEED will broadcast the banquet on Friday, Dec. 2 from 7-9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.