ARCA Rookie Joey Coulter Ready for Salem Short Track Challenge SALEM IN (9-17-09) - When it comes to Salem Speedway, every driver has an opinion; and ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Joey Coulter is no exception. "It's the most out-of-control...
ARCA Rookie Joey Coulter Ready for Salem Short Track Challenge
SALEM IN (9-17-09) - When it comes to Salem Speedway, every driver has an opinion; and ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Joey Coulter is no exception.
"It's the most out-of-control track I've ever been on," said Coulter, who was lightning fast in the spring race at Salem, but did not have the luck to go with it.
"It's a little unnerving at first, but once you get used to it, it's an absolute blast. We had an awesome car our first race there; we just had some bad luck."
Coulter's memory of the old quirky short track goes beyond the race.
"Qualifying was nerve-wracking. My leg wouldn't stop bouncing. But once you get into a rhythm in the race, you get used to it. But for me, it took some time to get calmed down enough so I could get into a rhythm."
Coulter, in his first Salem appearance back in the spring, was running third when an issue with the battery caused him to lose several laps on pit road. Coulter eventually returned to the race 26 laps down. Nonetheless, he was able to learn a lot in preparation for his next go-round on the legendary, southern Indiana oval.
"I learned that the track changes so much and so fast. You have to constantly pay attention to what the track's doing. And you find yourself racing the track, rather than your competitors, which is, in part, how you survive long enough to be there in the end. But, eventually, if you're still in the game, you've got to start racing each other, which complicates things even more. Makes it even more exciting."
Coulter also learned during his first Salem start that the line there is like no other.
"It took me a few laps, but I finally figured out where I had to be on the track to make a pass. It's not something you can necessarily do in one corner - you have to plan ahead for it. You can't pass off the turns unless you're up high off the corners. I had to learn how to get through one and two so you could put yourself in a position to be on the high-side through three and four.
"I tried a few passes on the low end off turn four but it just screws up your exit. You have to get out of the gas; then they just blow by you (on the high-side) off four."
After getting off to a slow start this year, Coulter, alongside veteran crew chief Harold Holly, have stepped up in a big way. The very effective duo finds themselves fourth in championship points headed into this Saturday's Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic at Salem Speedway. Coulter, a graduate of the USAR Pro Cup tour, says his confidence is on the rise.
"When I was running in the Pro Cup deal, I was losing my confidence. Then we hooked up with Harold Holly who has brought me up to his level, rather than come to mine. It takes a special kind of teacher to be able to do that. We ran fast at Salem because Harold gave me the confidence I needed to do that. He gave me a car capable of running fast without me knowing much about going fast there. He's really built up my vocabulary when it comes to the whole thing."
And with the aid of Holly, Coulter has answered the call.
After a career-best finish of second at Mansfield, Coulter nearly won earlier this month at Toledo. The 19-year-old Miami Springs, Florida driver was 20 laps away from victory at Toledo when the eventual winner muscled him out of the way in the closing laps. In addition to two Menards Pole Awards at Iowa and Toledo, Coulter has also earned top-five finishes Pocono, Michigan, Iowa, Berlin and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile-dirt.
While all the tracks on tour are new to Coulter, Salem Speedway, having raced there once, will be a welcome site.
"We're taking a different car to Salem. We think the front-end geometry is going to be better in this car. And now I know more what to expect out of the place. I'm excited to go back. We should definitely be a factor."
In addition to the ARCA RE/MAX Series, the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series will join the raceday slate with a 50-lap main event. The ARCA Truck race will mark the season championship finale for the 11-year tour.
Practice for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic 200 is from 1:05 PM to 2:35 PM followed by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 4:00 PM. The ARCA Lincoln Welders 50 goes at 5:30 followed by prerace and driver introductions for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic, scheduled to roll just after 7:00 PM.
All on-track activity from Salem will be featured live in streaming video and audio at ARCAracing.com.