Coulter: Racing on dirt helps NASCAR effort
July 21, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
The technical information might not transfer, but that seat-of-the-pants feel generated from sliding around a dirt track? Can’t beat it says Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Joey Coulter.
“It’s a whole different ballgame,” the 23-year-old said, explaining why he purchased a Late Model car, as well as crate and super LM engines, last season.
Coulter will be doing double duty this week at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, competing in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Mudsummer Classic on Wednesday as well as Tuesday’s Late Model Invitational.
The truck series event will mark the first time in 42 years a top NASCAR series has competed on dirt.
Coulter will be in one of three KBM entries for the NCWTS event, joining teammate Darrell Wallace Jr. and legendary dirt racer Scott Bloomquist.
Although he finished ninth at Iowa in the series’ most recent stop, Coulter lost ground in the points picture, falling from 12th to 13th. He also scored top-10 finishes at Kansas (where he was runner-up to race winner Matt Crafton) and Dover.
A year ago, he finished third in points while competing for Richard Childress Racing after placing seventh in 2011 for RCR.
Like many of today’s younger racers, Coulter’s background in racing revolved around asphalt tracks. Dirt was an unknown.
The decision to compete on dirt when his schedule allowed wasn’t done with Eldora in mind -- Coulter made the move long before this year’s NCWTS schedule was put together. But he said he quickly realized racing on dirt could help him with his NASCAR effort.
“The thing I liked about (racing on dirt) was it gave me a whole other realm of feels … just more to compare, more differences to see,” Coulter said. “It really helped me be able to diagnose my truck better. Especially when it’s hot and slick and you don’t have a lot of grip you still have to run a really good lap time. The dirt is kind of like that all the time. It really has helped me zero in on how I needed to set my truck up, where I needed to run on the race track and how I needed to run on the race track.”
But if most NASCAR tracks are unique, dirt tracks are doubly so, he said.
“It’s hard to run all these different places and say ‘well, when I get to Eldora, it’s going to be like this,’” Coulter said. “The biggest thing, whether we were racing Eldora or not, I’d still be running this many races because … it’s just more tools in the toolbox.
“Just being around the dirt, seeing how the tracks change … seeing how fast I can see the trends, that’s what I think will help me.”
Coulter said he doesn’t believe anyone will have an advantage since the field will be made up of those who have raced trucks and those who have raced on dirt. No one, he said, has raced trucks on dirt.
Even Bloomquist and former World of Outlaws champion Dave Blaney will have their work cut out for them, he said. Bloomquist has won big money Late Model races at Eldora in the past; Blaney made the transition to NASCAR after winning the WoO title in 1995.
“He’ll be great to have on the team, to watch and listen to his feedback,” Coulter said of Bloomquist. “ But at the same time, what he’s used to driving is built for dirt. These things aren’t. Even with everything he’s done in a dirt car, I don’t see him being way above any one of us because it’s not even close. It’s so different.
“With everyone being on the same page and not knowing what will happen, that will make it exciting.”
Regardless of the outcome, Coulter said he’s excited just being able to participate in the historic event.
“It’s one of those things that’s just going to be cool,” he said. “Twenty years from now I can tell my grandkids, ‘yeah, NASCAR raced on dirt, again; (the) first truck race on dirt and I got to race in it.”