Martinsville (Va.) Speedway’s “paperclip” is known to produce action-packed racing around the half-mile oval – trucks get roughed up and tempers tend to flare – which was no different after 200 laps in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Kroger 200. However, Joey Coulter, driver of the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra stayed out of trouble and muscled his way through traffic to finish 12th in his fifth start at the Virginia track.
“Our day was pretty good overall,” Coulter said. “We worked our way up front, got in a few bang ups, but tire strategy was really important and I think we did that really well. The truck got really tight there at the end and could have probably had an even better day, but we got punted off of Turn 4 there at the end, but I guess that’s Martinsville.”
Starting on the outside of row 11 in the 22nd position, Coulter was able to break into the top-20 by lap three and began to muscle his way through traffic around the .526-mile oval. Complaining of a Tundra that was “tight in the center and on exit,” the Miami Springs, Fla. native held a position inside the top-15 during a long green-flag run, until the second caution flag of the afternoon waved on lap 70 for a spin in Turn 4.
Crew chief, Harold Holly summoned the No. 18 Toyota Tundra down pit road for four tires, including an air pressure adjustment, and fuel. When racing resumed on lap 76, Coulter was scored in the 14th position.
Coulter ran as high as ninth over the next 54 circuits, but began to lose ground to the leaders as he battled for position late in the run. With tire wear at a premium around the Virginia short track, Holly opted to bring the Darrell Gwynn Foundation machine down pit road under caution on lap 130 for Coulter’s last set of sticker tires. When the field took the green flag, the No. 18 Tundra was scored in the 12th position with 66 laps remaining.
As the laps “ticked” down in the Kroger 200, the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) No. 18 machine began to get tight and Coulter would fall as far back as 15th in the running order. A four-truck accident in Turn 2 slowed the field for the 10th and final time on lap 189. Coulter took the restart with six laps remaining from the 13th position and was able to gain one spot before crossing the line in the 12th position, his 10th top-15 finish of 2013.
KBM driver, Darrell Wallace, Jr. earned his first career NCWTS victory, making history as the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR national touring series event in 50 years. Brendan Gaughan came home in the runner-up position with Jeb Burton behind him in the third. Ben Kennedy and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five finishers.
KBM teammate Denny Hamlin led 65 laps en route to a sixth-place finish behind the wheel of the No. 51 Jordan Brand Toyota.
There were 10 caution periods for 52 laps and five different drivers exchanged the lead seven times during the 200 lap event.
Coulter remains 14th in the 2013 NCWTS driver point standings with 538 points; 54 markers behind 10th-place Timothy Peters, 87 points behind fifth-place Johnny Sauter and 169 markers behind series point leader Matt Crafton.
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