News & Media


In the water or on the track, Coulter out front

September 27, 2011, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

From scuba diving to chasing the rookie title, RCR driver shows little fear

Joey Coulter, the top rookie driver in the Camping World Truck Series, answers this week's six questions.

1. Driving the No. 22 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, you're currently seventh in points -- only seven behind veteran Matt Crafton in sixth and only 11 behind four-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. in fifth. How excited are you about how your rookie season has gone?

Coulter: It's been a really amazing year. I knew going in that RCR was going to give me some of the best equipment out there. I knew the trucks were going to be fast. But I was thinking, 'OK, this is the Truck Series. I've never been in a [racing] truck. I need to make sure I don't set my goals too high. I just want to finish laps, finish races. That needs to be our focus.'

"You would think our driving styles would be completely different. He comes from a dirt background; I come from completely pavement, no dirt at all. Yet we've got a similar feel for the truck."

--JOEY COULTER

But things really started coming together and really started clicking. [Teammate] Austin Dillon [currently the series points leader] has helped us a lot, and so have a lot of the other RCR drivers. So right after the first Nashville race [last April] our season just made a big turn. We started running to where we could compete for wins. Now every weekend we're going for the win, and just trying to get as far up in points as we can.

2. How far up do you think you can go with just six races left in the season?

Coulter: Our goal [before the season] was top 10. Now I think we're shooting for the top five. We went from wanting to just finish races to wanting to go for wins. It's really been an awesome season and it's blown my expectations out of the water.

3. How has Austin been as a teammate?

Coulter: He's an awesome teammate. This is the first season [after years of competing in the ARCA Series] that I've had a teammate, and it's been great working with him. Us younger bucks [Coulter turned 21 last June, less than two months after Dillon did] don't have nearly the experience of the older guys. But I think because we're basically the same age, we connect really well. We seem to have the same feel for the truck at different tracks.

It's really neat working with him. You would think our driving styles would be completely different. He comes from a dirt background; I come from completely pavement, no dirt at all. Yet we've got a similar feel for the truck, I think. He's been a huge help to me at places I've never seen before, and just getting acclimated to the trucks at places I have been. So he's been a huge help and a great teammate.

4. As a fan of scuba diving away from the track, do you have plans to introduce Austin to it?

Coulter: He's taking me trap shooting and stuff like that. And he's supposed to take me hunting over the winter. So I'm going to have to take him down to Florida where the water is warmer and take him scuba diving.

5. What's the coolest thing you've ever done in relation to that hobby?

Coulter: Probably a couple years ago when I went down to the British Virgin Islands with a really close family friend. We went and dove at this massive wreck. It was an old mail steam ship. It was a huge wreck that has been turned into an artificial reef, and we went and dove that.

I was diving in one section of the boat and turned the corner, and there was this huge eel. Its head was probably the size of a beach ball. It was huge. I turned the corner and about ran into it. The good thing was he was about as scared of me as I was of him, so it turned out to be a pretty cool experience. I had never seen anything like that diving down in Florida.

6. You're also a full-time student majoring in mechanical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Why do you think that's so important?

Coulter: I think it helps a lot because it gives me another aspect of racing. It gives me a chance to learn the engineering side of it. On some of these teams, the drivers, crew chiefs and engineers have a hard time communicating because it's three different languages most of the time. I think understanding the engineering part of it, along with getting the driving part of it, just helps that communication and helps the whole team function better.