Crash.Net NASCAR News
Trucks: Maiden win for Coulter
4 August 2012
Joey Coulter was celebrating in victory lane at Pocono Raceway on Saturday afternoon, having claimed his maiden win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 36 attempts.
Coulter hadn't been on front all evening until it came to what proved to be the final restart on lap 44, which saw him start from third place behind the leaders Nelson Piquet Jr. and James Buescher, but with his eyes firmly on the prize.
"As soon as the spotter said green, I just put the foot to the floor," he said of the moment he managed to dip underneath Piquet for the lead. "It's what we needed to do. We needed to make moves quick. I knew we had to get it done right there or we weren't going to have a second chance at it."
That gave Coulter the lead for the first time with just seven laps remaining of the 50-lap race, and he was never ousted all the way to the chequered flag, and meant that former F1 driver Piquet was once again denied his own first visit to victory lane in the Truck series.
"The last restart was a bit of a problem," admitted Piquet. "It's so wide. I didn't know if I would defend on my left - Coulter - or if I would try to keep my line with James next to me, and it ended up being three-wide in the first corner.
"That was it," he continued. "I lost all my position. Still recovered to third. But it was a shame. Obviously, we had a fast truck, the quickest one out there. All we wanted to do was win."
Piquet had indeed been the fastest man for most of the brisk one-hour race, leading from pole position for the first stint of the race for 28 of the first 33 laps, interrupted only by the cycling of cars through pit lane for their first gas-and-tyres of the race under green flag conditions.
Piquet was back in the lead by lap 30 when Timothy George Jr. spun at turn 2 to bring out the first of the day's three cautions, but fell back to second place behind Buescher which left him firmly in the sights of Todd Bodine closing from behind.
"You don't wreck somebody like that. It's just totally ridiculous that happened," said a fuming Bodine of the incident that ended his race. “I pulled down to draft off of James and I should have known that Nelson wasn't smart enough to pull over with me and side draft with me.
Bodine dropped down off the back of Buescher intending to cut in front of Piquet, but instead got turned across the nose of the #30 and sent into a hard nose-first impact with the inside wall which fortunately had recently been fitted with an impact-reducing SAFER barrier for just such a moment.
While Bodine admitted that his own initial move might have been a mistake, Piquet had been in the wrong not to yield. “Even if the guy [such as me] is dumb enough to make the mistake, you pull over with him. You don't turn him around in the middle of the straightway running 150 miles an hour," he said. "That was just ignorance."
Bodine was furious enough with Piquet to hurl his helmet at the #30 as it passed - something that NASCAR are likely to take a very dim view of. He was told to report to the officials' hauler afterwards and may receive a point or financial penalty when NASCAR reviews the race during the week.
Piquet on the other hand was unapologetic. “I had no idea he was going to turn on me ... I didn't have enough time to react to move to the left, that would have put us three-wide.
"There's nothing I could have done. I'm sure about that. That kind of driving, it's his kind. He didn't do it on purpose. It's just the way he is. He's aggressive," Piquet continued. "The move he did was a bit inexperienced ... You would expect somebody like me to do something like that, moving without knowing where he's going!"
Piquet was able to continue running after the accident, while Bodine's wreck brought out the second caution of the day. Buescher and Piquet got away cleanly at the front but behind them there was a big crash at the tunnel turn 2 which saw Paulie Harraka get up to high and into Ron Hornaday Jr., while at the same time Truck series points leader Timothy Peters got loose beneath Matt Crafton and spun into the wall to bring out a rapid third caution.
Piquet had taken the lead from Buescher in the brief seconds of green flag running, but the ensuing restart was the moment when Coulter seized his moment and leapt to the front for his clear run to the chequered flag and a long awaited chequered flag.
Buescher chased Coulter home to the line but was ultimately short by 1.224s, while Piquet hung on for third place ahead of Crafton and Cup regular Denny Hamlin, who was racing the #18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Truck for his Joe Gibbs Racing Cup teammate.
Ty Dillon, who had started on the front row but got up way too high on the first lap and scraped the wall, managed to hold on to sixth place by the end, which - combined with Peter's wreck leaving him mired in 22nd place - means that Dillon closes to within eight points of Peters at the top of the Truck championship standings.
Full race results, qualifying and practice times