Race Weekend Central

Beyond the Cockpit: Joey Coulter Tackles the Rock’s Return, Off Weeks & Dirt

HAMLET, N.C. – The road to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Joey Coulter started in 1999, at just nine years old when he jumped behind the wheel of a go-kart for the first time. Coulter ran karts for six years before stepping up to Florida FASTRUCKs, Whelen All-American late models and USAR pro cups.

In 2009, he moved into the ARCA Series, landed two poles, seven top fives, 13 top 10s and was crowned the HG Adcox Sportsman of the Year. After notching his first victory of his ARCA career in 2010, Coulter moved up to the Truck Series in 2011 for Richard Childress Racing, with great success. Coulter’s stats included five top fives, 13 top 10s and a seventh-place final points standing at the end of the season.

Three races into 2012, the 21-year-old sits 12th in the standings with a lone top 10 Sunday at Rockingham Speedway (April 15). But those numbers don’t show the sparks that have flown on the racetrack already: he walked away from a pretty significant wreck that had the back end of his No. 22 Chevrolet up in the air on the final lap at Daytona.

Frontstretch‘s Mike Neff met up with Coulter as the trucks returned to Rockingham to talk about his career to date, what he does in his spare time and how he is improving his driving skills during the off weekends for the Truck Series.

Mike Neff, Frontstretch: Tell us about your initial foray at The Rock, in a truck anyway.

Joey Coulter: It is a lot of fun. I’m really, really glad the Trucks are racing here. I’m glad NASCAR is back at Rockingham. It is too good of a racetrack not to have at least one of NASCAR’s touring series here.

Neff: Rockingham is one of the few tracks that we go to where you have more experience than most of the other guys out here. Tell us about all of the things that you’ve run at Rockingham Speedway.

Coulter: I ran two Pro Cup races here during the last year I ran Pro Cup. I ran three ARCA races here during the two years I spent in ARCA and somewhere in there I ran a UARA race. I can’t remember when it was, but it was somewhere in there. I’ve got quite a few laps, but I’ve never had much luck here.

I definitely have a lot of laps logged though, which is a rarity for me. I think, in the last four years, everywhere that I’ve gone I’ve been the least experienced so this is kind of a neat change.

Neff: Now you have about, what, nine weeks off or something in the last couple of months. What have you been doing with all of that free time?

Coulter: I went and got a dirt late model with a crate motor in it. I’ve been running that. Harold Holly, my crew chief, is a partner in a dirt team called Wolfpack Racing and they do a lot of consulting. They put a dirt car together for me and we’ve run four or five times. First race we finished seventh, the second race I missed and the third race I won. So it has been going pretty good and they are a blast to drive. I think you get a lot of valuable experience racing those cars.

Neff: So what race did you win?

Coulter: I won a 35-lap crate race in Bull’s Gap, Tenn. I can’t remember which series, to be honest with you, I feel bad for that. It was a fun night. Like I said, those cars have been a big help just the few races I’ve run with these trucks. Especially when you come to a track like this where grip is not a commodity here. Especially once the tires wear out, it really helps you with the throttle control and keeping the tail behind you.

Neff: Now, you’re a dirt racer. Had you ever raced on dirt before you got the late model this year?

Coulter: No, that was my first four races in a dirt car so far. I never even sat in one before the very first night I raced it. It was really jumping right in the fire, which I think was a good thing. Those cars, as good as those guys are that drive them, you have got to get on your game fast. If not, they’ll run right over you.

Neff: The obvious next question is how long before we see you at the Prelude to the Dream?

Coulter: I don’t know. I’m waiting on the invite. We’re just going to take it one step at a time. I’m still in a crate car. I haven’t put a super motor in yet. Just like anything else, we’re going to take it one step at a time and make sure I’m learning something and not just wasting time.

Neff: Do you live in the Mooresville/Concord/Welcome, North Carolina area?

Coulter: I live in Charlotte. I’ve been going to UNC Charlotte for engineering for three years. I’m just right outside of the University area.

Neff: Any chance we’re going to see you more on the tracks like Cherokee, Carolina, Lancaster and I-77?

Coulter: Oh yeah, I have a whole list of races I want to get to this year. A lot of them are on the Carolina Clash Series. Also the NDRA, FASTRAK, Ultimate series. A lot of different stuff but I will probably run 10-15 races in the Carolinas.

Joey Coulter started 17th Sunday at Rockingham but wasted little time heading toward the front. After pulling into the top 10 within the first 50 laps, he remained there the rest of the night. He finished a solid sixth and moved from 24th to 12th in the points standings.

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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