Making his 50th NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start, Joey Coulter had high hopes of a rock solid finish in the 2nd Annual N.C. Education Lottery 200 presented by Cheerwine at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway.
"It was a long day at the office for this No. 18 Toyota team, but that's Rockingham and you will have that," Coulter said. "My Tundra was pretty loose most of the race and was definitely better on the long runs, which hurt us at the end of the race.
At the end of the day, track position was key and the restarts just didn't work in our favor. A 13th-place finish isn't what we came here to do, but it was a solid points day and we will regroup for Kansas next week."
The No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra took the green flag from the 17th position and after falling back to 18th in the early laps, Coulter radioed into crew chief Harold Holly, that his machine was, "really loose in the center of the corner and on exit."
As the 22-year-old driver settled in, his Tundra came to life and was running lap times as fast as the leader. When the second caution flag waved on lap 64 for a spin in Turn 2, the Florida native was scored 14th, but still complained of a loose condition on exit.
Once the pit road opened, four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment were administered and when racing resumed on lap 67, the No. 18 machine was scored 15th.
Getting back into his rhythm, Coulter was able to settle into the 13th position by lap 85 and remained there until the field was slowed for a third time at lap 95 for smoke on the backstretch.
Still complaining of being "loose on exit," the No. 18 KBM over-the-wall crew went to work on a chassis adjustment followed by a four-tire and fuel stop. Coulter would restart from the 12th position on lap 102.
Coulter maintained his position within the top 15 over the next 42 circuits and welcomed the fourth caution on lap 144 as his Toyota Tundra began to get tight in the center of the corner.
Making his last stop of the day, Holly was forced to go with a major chassis adjustment, four tires and fuel for the final 52 laps of the 200-lap event. Due to a lengthy pit stop, Coulter took the green flag from the 17th position.
Back under green, Coulter was able to capitalize on his new sticker tires and gained four positions on track before the fifth caution of the afternoon slowed the field on lap 174 for four laps.
With no sticker tires remaining behind the wall, the No. 18 machine stayed out with the leaders to once again restart 12th on lap 178.
The field was slowed two more times for six laps in the final stages of the race and went into overtime for the first time this season. Coulter, who was able to manage his tires on long runs, didn't get the storybook ending he needed to break into the top 10 and when the field took the checkered flag at lap 203, the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra was scored 13th, his second top-15 finish of 2013.
Kyle Larson won the 2nd Annual N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Rockingham Speedway, his first NCWTS victory in just his fifth series start. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Joey Logano, finished second, posting his first top-five finish in only his second series start.
Brendan Gaughan, Johnny Sauter and Chase Elliott rounded out the top five. KBM teammate Erik Jones came back from a 36th-place qualifying effort to finish ninth and Darrell Wallace, Jr., who spent most of the 200-lap event in the top 10 was taken out under the seventh and final caution and relegated to a 27th-place finish.
There were seven caution periods for 33 laps and three different drivers led at least one lap, exchanging the lead four times.
Kyle Busch Motorsports