Hometown hero, Joey Coulter entered the last race on the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway (HMS) optimistic to close out his junior year campaign on a high note for all of his family, friends and team at his home track in Florida. Unfortunately, a series of events would plague the No. 18 GunBroker.com team and ultimately lead to a 27th-place finish in the Truck Series season finale.
Starting on the inside of row 13, in the 25th position, Coulter battled a loose GunBroker.com Toyota Tundra in the opening laps of the 136-lap event. In an effort to aid in the handling, Coulter chose to give up track position when the first of eight caution flags was thrown for debris on the backstretch to come to pit road for fuel and a chassis adjustment. When racing resumed on lap eight, the No. 18 machine was scored 27th.
As Coulter began to work his way up the leaderboard, the Miami Springs, Fla. native radioed into his crew that he was, “wicked loose and had a vibration.” Less than 10 laps later, the second caution flag was displayed on lap 42 when the No. 18 went for a spin in Turn 4. Keeping it off the wall, Coulter was able to bring his Tundra to pit road multiple times under the yellow flag for tires, fuel and chassis adjustments. When racing resumed on lap 30, the KBM entry was scored 30th, one lap down to the race leader.
Improvements to the handling of his GunBroker.com Toyota Tundra allowed Coulter to maintain the “Lucky Dog” position for the next 20 circuits, until the third caution flag was displayed for debris on the backstretch. Crew chief Harold Holly called his driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. When racing resumed on lap 69, the No. 18 machine was scored 26th.
Still complaining of a Toyota Tundra that was, “loose off, but better on entry,” Coulter was able to muscle his way through the field over the next 26 laps, picking off trucks one by one. When the fourth caution flag was displayed on lap 95 for an accident in Turn 4, the No. 18 Tundra made its way down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Fast work by the over-the-wall crew allowed Coulter to gain three positions for the lap-99 restart.
Coulter worked his way up to the 15th position before his Tundra got, “tight in the center of the corner,” and the No. 18 machine began to lose positions on the race track. A welcoming opportunity for relief was displayed on lap 132 when the No. 4 of Jeb Burton hit the wall in Turn 4. Holly called his junior year driver to pit road for right side tires and fuel. Coulter would take the lap 135-restart, the field’s first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, from the 12th position.
Unfortunately, the No. 18 was involved in the seventh caution of the night at lap 137 with the 88 and 24 trucks. Coulter would be forced down pit road twice under caution to repair the damaged GunBroker.com machine, losing valuable track position and ultimately losing six laps to the race leader and crossing the stripe in the 27th position.
“Well, the highs were good and the lows were lows,” Coulter said. “I can’t thank the guys enough for fighting hard all year. We’ve had a lot of bad luck that they’ve pushed through. Like tonight, we got turned around on a green-white-checkered and even with a couple laps to go, they got it back rolling and we finished the race. My guys fought so hard all night, it just wasn’t our year. I can’t thank Kyle Busch Motorsports, Toyota, Darrell Gwynn Foundation, Tempest, GunBroker.com and FOX Sports 1 enough, we had a lot of fun and we couldn’t have done it without their support.”
Kyle Busch won the 18th Annual Truck Series finale at HMS, his fifth victory of 2013 and his 35th win in 115 NCWTS races. His efforts earned the owner-driver his second Truck Series Owner’s Championship title in four seasons. Ryan Blaney (second) finished 0.081 seconds behind him in the runner-up spot. Jeb Burton, Brendan Gaughan and Ron Hornaday, Jr. rounded out the top-five finishers.
KBM’s rookie of the year contender, Darrell Wallace, Jr. finished 15th.
There were eight caution periods for 37 laps and 13 different drivers led a lap, exchanging the lead eight times.
Coulter caps off the season 15th in the 2013 NCWTS driver point standings with 605 points; 78 points behind 10th-place Timothy Peters, 126 markers behind fifth-place Jeb Burton and 199 points behind the 2013 Truck Series Champion, Matt Crafton.
The No. 18 Toyota Tundra ends the season with 18 laps led en route to three top-five and five top-10 finishes.
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