Pulling away after a strong restart with seven laps left in Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono Raceway, Joey Coulter notched his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory, beating James Buescher to the finish line by 1.224 seconds.
Coulter charged from third to first moments after a restart on Lap 44 of 50 at the 2.5-mile triangular track, after a caution on Lap 39 that took series leader Timothy Peters out of the race. Peters was racing through the tunnel turn, got loose beneath another truck and spun into the wall, as two separate incidents in the same corner damaged five cars.
“As soon as the spotter said ‘Green,’ I put the foot to the floor and just let the ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines) Chevrolet horsepower do the rest,” Coulter said. “We needed to make moves quick. Track position was real important.
“It was new pavement (since last year’s truck race), and it picked the speeds up, but it sure did make it hard to pass. I knew we had to get it done right there, or we weren’t going to have a second chance at it.”
Third-place finisher and pole-sitter Nelson Piquet Jr., who led 33 laps and brought the field to green for the final time, said restarts are complicated at Pocono, which features the longest straightaway in NASCAR racing at 3,740 feet.
“The last restart was a bit of a problem,” Piquet said. “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 (Buescher) next to me, and it ended up being three-wide in the first corner.
“That was it. 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.”
Matt Crafton and Denny Hamlin finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Ty Dillon, Parker Kligerman, John Wes Townley, Justin Lofton and Ross Chastain completed the top 10.
Piquet survived a run-in with Todd Bodine, who surged forward after a restart on Lap 34 but turned across the nose of Piquet’s Chevrolet when he moved down the track into Piquet’s line.
“I’ll take the blame for that whole thing just because I should have known better than to trust an idiot to do the right thing,” Bodine said. “I pulled down to draft off of James (Buescher) and I should have known that Nelson wasn’t smart enough to pull over with me and side-draft me.
“If it was the last lap of the race, I could see that. He thinks he owes me one anyway from Kansas, I think it was, but it’s a shame.”
Piquet dismissed Bodine’s suggestion.
“It was right at the exit of the corner, James was to my outside, and they passed me to the outside, so I didn’t even have time to tuck behind (Bodine),” Piquet explained. “His spotter should have told him that I was beside him . . .
“There’s nothing I could have done. I was never expecting something like that. The move he did was a bit inexperienced. You would expect somebody like me to do something like that. (Piquet is in his second full NCWTS season; Bodine is a two-time series champion.)
“It was after a corner, after a restart — everybody’s kind of chaotic over there. Not much to say. I couldn’t have done anything else.”
Notes: Dillon cut Peters’ series lead to eight points. . . . Townley scored the first top 10 of his career.