MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Joey Coulter, driver of the No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Toyota Tundra, will make history on Wednesday night when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) makes its debut on dirt in The CarCash Mudsummer Classic presented by CNBC Prime's the Profit at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Oh.
While a majority of the Truck Series regulars have little to no experience on dirt, and the dirt-track ringers have little to no experience in a truck, Coulter, has 56 NCWTS starts since 2010 and has been getting down and dirty in the dirt for more than four years now.
Recently, he has been running his own Dirt Super Late Model every chance he gets, making 14 starts on dirt since 2009, including a win behind the wheel of a Pro Dirt Late Model at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, TN. Coulter is ready to put his knowledge of dirt and his experience in the Truck Series to work for his Kyle Busch Motorsports team and "soil" the competition in the historic event.
Joey Coulter, Driver of the No. 18 NCWTS Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra:
What have you learned running dirt races in preparation for the Eldora event? "It's dirty, it's fun, and it's a whole different ball game. There's nothing like it and there's no comparison between it and asphalt. It's a lot of fun and the thing I like about it is that it gave me a whole other realm of different feels, different race tracks -- just everything is different.
Just gave me more to compare things to, more differences to see and just getting back over to the pavement stuff, it really helped me be able to diagram some stuff with my truck better. Especially when it's hot and slick and you don't have a lot of grip and still have to run a really good lap time -- the dirt is kind of like that all the time. It really helped me zero in on how I needed to set my truck up and where I needed to run on the race track."
Will running all these dirt races get you ready for what to expect at Eldora? "It's tough because each dirt track is different, where each pavement track -- pavement is pavement. It's just some tracks are more worn out or less worn out, there are very minor differences. Dirt where I'm from in Florida and where I race all the time is not dirt that is clay. Then you go up into the mountains and it's kind of a mix of the clay and the dirt.
I've never been farther west really than Bulls Gap, (Speedway, Tri Cities, Tenn.) so it's hard to go run all these different places and say, 'When I get to Eldora it's going to be like this.' The biggest thing is that whether we were racing Eldora or not, I would still be running this many dirt races because it's just more tools in the toolbox.
Just being around the dirt, watching the race tracks change as they rubber-up or don't rubber-up, however it works. It's seeing how fast I can identify the trends that will help me when I go to Eldora."
Are you looking forward to the race at Eldora? "Yeah, it's one of those things that it's just going to be cool because 20 years from now I can tell my grandkids that, 'Yeah, NASCAR raced on dirt again and the first Truck race on dirt - I got to race at it.' It will be cool and I am excited."
Harold Holly, Crew Chief of the No. 18 NCWTS Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra:
What kind of information can Joey transfer to Eldora from his dirt super late model racing experience? "Well the two vehicles are completely different animals. The truck is 3400 pounds with a lot smaller torque curve and a lot less power. So obviously the throttle control between the truck and a 2200 pound late model is a little bit different and the way that they drive and the tire as well.
The biggest thing that will help Joey at Eldora through his dirt experience is being able to read the dirt. With dirt, it's like a moving target with grip level. You are searching from lap to lap and corner to corner for a piece of race track that has moisture to find grip. Just by altering your line, there is a huge time variance from lap to lap. So, the guy that can adapt to the surface the quickest will be the man to beat.
How do you expect the trucks to react on the dirt compared to a dirt super late model? "Aerodynamics won't play a big role at all. You can race without the splitter, but the spoiler is key. With the truck being so much heavier and the breaking system the way that it is, it will be a whole lot quicker to slip on breaking under throttle than the late model.
The late model is super lightweight, with a lot of horsepower and a lot of down force. The truck will be slower to react, but quicker to get up on top of the surface and slide across than dig in and go. It will make for an interesting show. Once we get the truck race ready and the race starts, there's not a lot we can do to help Joey after that."
Do you think the dirt-track ringers will have an advantage over the truck series regulars? "No, I don't think so. They will have an advantage of knowing how to read the surface, but the big advantage those guys have in other series that will not translate to the Truck Series race this weekend will be their tires. In other dirt series, there is so much you can do with your tires in terms of grooving, buffing and cutting to pick up traction.
NASCAR is not allowing us to do that, so it will somewhat level out the playing field. Also, these dirt ringers don't know the trucks and they are 900% different in how they drive compared to a dirt late model in terms of handling and mechanics. So, I think the guys that race the trucks every week with dirt experience will actually have the advantage."
Joey Coulter's No. 18 Darrell Gwynn Foundation Tundra: The No. 18 KBM team will unload chassis KBM02 for the Inaugural Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Oh. This Tundra has finished inside the top 10 in its five previous starts, boasting an average start of 6.2, an average finish of 3.6, and has completed 100% of laps attempted (697 of697). This is also the same Toyota Tundra that Kyle Busch captured KBM's first win with in the NCWTS in April of 2010.