After a five-week hiatus, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is back in action at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this weekend for the 29th Annual Kroger 250. Although the series has slowed down, Joey Coulter, who made his debut behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) at Daytona International (Fla.) Speedway in February, has still been on the clock and behind the wheel.
The Miami Springs, FL native has utilized his 42-day break, the longest stretch between truck races all year, to get behind the wheel of a dirt late model at Volunteer Speedway, a 4/10-mile short-track, and has spent some time at the track with long-time girlfriend, Jessica Green, spotting for her in the Florida United Pro Truck Series. Last week, Coulter was able to get back behind the wheel of his No. 18 Toyota Tundra, testing at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C. in preparation for this weekend's event.
After being relegated to a 22nd-place finish due to a four-truck accident on the final lap at Daytona, Coulter knows producing a strong finish at Martinsville this weekend is critical in his bid for the 2013 Truck Series title. In 2012, the 22-year-old driver finished 18th and 30th, respectively, in the first two races of the season at Daytona and Martinsville. Those two finishes haunted him as his worst finishes of the year, and he missed the championship by a mere 19 points. Points that he says ultimately caused him to play catch-up the rest of the season.
Making his fifth start at Martinsville Speedway, Coulter is not only the oldest driver on the KBM roster for this weekend's event, he is also the only driver within the three-truck powerhouse that has prior experience on the .526-mile "Paperclip" in the NCWTS. Finishing a track-best third in his last visit to Martinsville Speedway (October, 2012), Coulter hopes to further capitalize on his efforts this spring to become the second youngest driver in series history to take home a grandfather clock.
Fortunately, for Coulter, the No. 18 Tundra has a history for being a solid contender at the Virginia track. Since its debut in April of 2010, the KBM Toyota has made six starts, boasting an average finish of 4.33, which includes one pole (Kyle Busch, 2010), one win (Denny Hamlin, 2011), four top-five and six top-10 finishes.
Coulter knows that he is only one of 35 drivers in pursuit of one of the most distinct and iconic trophies in racing, but hopes with his experience, leadership from veteran crew chief Harold Holly and the rich history of the No. 18 at the half-mile Virginia track, there is no better time for his first win than at Martinsville.