Joey Coulter arrived at Daytona International Speedway ready to start the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season with a new team, a new crew chief, and a return to a familiar manufacturer. Entering his fourth consecutive full-time Truck season, Coulter joined GMS Racing to drive the No. 21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet Silverado and compete for the championship.
After a successful practice session on Wednesday afternoon saw Coulter fourth fastest on the speed chart, the GMS Racing team knew their Chevrolet was in good shape for Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250. Crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz decided to make one run during Thursday’s practice and start preparing the Allegiant Travel Silverado for qualifying.
Rain moved into the Daytona area on Friday afternoon, washing out qualifying and delaying the start of the 100-lap event. Once track officials completed the drying process, Coulter started the race from the fifth position, based on overall practice speeds.
As soon as the green flag flew, the leaders ran single-file on the bottom and clicked off laps until the competition caution slowed the pace on lap 20. Coulter radioed to his team that the Allegiant Travel Chevrolet was “all good so far” and Stankiewicz called his driver to pit road for fuel and a track bar adjustment. As Coulter was exiting pit road, the veteran narrowly avoided a fellow competitor, causing the GMS Racing entry to restart from sixth place on lap 25.
With being scored in the sixth position, Coulter lined up on the outside groove behind NCWTS defending champion Matt Crafton. Crafton and Coulter continued to make the outside line work and stay door to door with the preferred inside line.
Stankiewicz told Coulter he would need to pit in two laps, just as the second caution slowed the pace on lap 52. Coulter returned to pit road for right side tires and fuel. With varying strategies on pit road, the No. 21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet restarted from the 24th position. Within two laps, Coulter quickly maneuvered his way back into the top-15.
Still running in the outside line, Coulter moved into the 13th position by lap 60 as the competition started to pick up with 40 laps remaining. Thirteen laps later, disaster struck as a 16-truck accident occurred and destroyed the Allegiant Travel Chevrolet. Coulter almost had the wreck missed, before another truck came back onto the racetrack sending the 23-year-old into the wall.
The damage sustained was too much to repair and Coulter’s night ended prematurely. The No. 21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet team finished in the 32nd position.
“It’s very unfortunate to end the first race of the season this way,” said Coulter after being evaluated and released from the infield care center. “I could feel business picking up and knew something was getting ready to happen. It’s a shame because the GMS Racing guys built a really fast Allegiant Travel Chevrolet and I thought we had a truck to contend for the win. It felt great to be in a Silverado again and we will go back to the shop, get ready for Martinsville and be ready to go.”
The next NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race will be at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Saturday, March 29, 2014.
GMS Racing PR