DuQuoin's Magic Mile Dirt Calls Out for ARCA Rookie Joey Coulter; 57th Annual Southern Illinois 100 Coming Labor Day Monday DuQUOIN IL (9-3-09) - ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Joey Coulter has only raced on dirt once. Nonetheless, the 19-year-old ...
DuQuoin's Magic Mile Dirt Calls Out for ARCA Rookie Joey Coulter; 57th Annual Southern Illinois 100 Coming Labor Day Monday
DuQUOIN IL (9-3-09) - ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Joey Coulter has only raced on dirt once. Nonetheless, the 19-year-old Miami Springs, Florida driver feels he's way better off headed to the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds than he was last month in his first dirt track attempt on the Springfield mile-dirt.
"I definitely know more this time around," said Coulter. "I also know I definitely don't know enough yet.
"I got to talk to Frank (Kimmel) at Chicagoland. He said DuQuoin's more of a rectangle than Springfield. He also said that DuQuoin doesn't rubber-up as much and you could slide the car more - keep it pitched out more because of the different shape. He said the dirt was different at DuQuoin compared to Springfield. Anyway, I got the feeling that whatever we learned at Springfield doesn't necessarily apply for DuQuoin."
Despite the differences between the two, there's no getting around the fact that both tracks are flat miles filled with clay - a little redder the dirt is the farther south you get. And despite Springfield being Coulter's first dirt track attempt, things were going very well until......
"Things were going really well until we got turned. I don't think it was intentional, but it hurt the car. We were actually real happy with the car toward the end of the race. We spent the first half saving tires. There at the end, bout 40 to go, we lit the candles and raced up to fifth or sixth. Then we got turned.
"My guys have done an awesome job getting the car turned around. We straightened it out. Looking at the bright side, it hit mostly on the right front wheel. It broke the wheel and A-frames before it got to the clip, so fortunately, the wheel and suspension pieces absorbed the brunt of it."
Through it all, Coulter had more questions than answers when he left Springfield, but took away some valuable information nonetheless - just in time for the upcoming September 7th Labor Day Monday classic - the 57th annual Southern Illinois 100 at the "Magic Mile" in DuQuoin, Illinois.
"Springfield was a huge learning experience - completely different than anything I've ever tried. Once I got myself adapted, the track would change. I learned that you can't set up once and be good all day. The track is constantly changing, so it definitely makes for some handling issues. And then you ask yourself, 'is it the car or the track?'"
Coulter, after consulting with several drivers about running on dirt, and after racing at Springfield, began to put the pieces together.
"I could see what the guys were talking about - how the track rubbered-up similar to pavement. But the way the track changed throughout the day was nothing like I've ever experienced. I mean, Springfield was my first time on dirt, period.
"So if the track changes, then you've got to understand what it's going to do to the car. It's like one big never-ending equation going on in your head. How much do you change the car to adapt to the changing track conditions or do you wait for the track to come to you?"
Following Coulter's disappointing finish at Springfield, he rebounded with a solid sixth place finish at Chicagoland last Friday. Coulter's also fourth in championship points, within reach of veteran Frank Kimmel, who's third.
Currently, there are 36 entries for the Southern Illinois 100 including one from NASCAR veteran and two-time DuQuoin winner Ken Schrader.
Westmorland, California's Justin Lofton and rookie/Penske Development driver Parker Kligerman lead an ultra tight championship points battle headed to DuQuoin.
Eddie Pearson, son of NASCAR champion David Pearson, has also filed an entry, as has USAC national champion Brian Tyler.
Former Southern Illinois 100 winners at DuQuoin include AJ Foyt, Jimmy Bryan, Fred Lorenzen, Don White, Rusty Wallace, Dean Roper, Jack Bowsher, Bob Keselowski, Bob Strait, Kimmel, Billy Thomas, Tony Stewart and Schrader to name a few.
ARCA RE/MAX Series practice for the 57th Southern Illinois 100 is scheduled from 9:00-10:00 am local Central time Monday, September 7th, followed by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 11:00. The start of the Southern Illinois 100 is set for 1:00 pm.