By: Toby Christie – Follow on Twitter @Tobalical
Race fans need to remember the name Joey Coulter, because he is quickly climbing the NASCAR ladder, and is on the verge of becoming a household name in NASCAR. Currently he is smack-dab in the middle of his second season as the pilot of the No. 22 Chevrolet Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Richard Childress Racing.
Coulter finished eighth in the point standings during his rookie campaign, and he already has three top-ten finishes through seven races in 2012. Joey Coulter was gracious enough to take time out for an exclusive interview with Sicknissified.com in our continuing “Fender To Fender” Series where we talk to the hottest up-and-coming driving talents in the sport.
TC: You are one of the more promising prosepcts that are currently working their way up the NASCAR ladder. How did you get the word that Richard Childress was interested in your talents?
JC: You know it was kind of a surprise. I had run ARCA for my parents race team for a couple of years. At the end of our second year, you know we had a decent year, but it wasn’t all that great – it wasn’t super good. I wasn’t really expecting anything to come out of it. I was getting geared up to go ARCA Racing for a third year.
Then the phone wrang one day, I answered it and it was a lady from Richard Childress [Racing]. She said, “You know Richard Childress is interested in talking to you about possibly running some truck races, and being the third driver in the development part of the shop.
I was like, “Okay who is this? It’s real funny.”
But there was really no warning. I was set to run another year in ARCA, and had my sights set on winning an ARCA championship, but obviously plans changed at the end of that phone call.
TC: When you look up crew chief in the dictionary, not far down the list of descriptions is a picture of your crew chief Harold Holly. Holly was of course the crew chief for Jeff Green’s 2000 Nationwide Series championship season where they obliterated the competition. What’s it like working with him?
JC: It’s quite an experience, and its quite an honor to have him as a crew chief. I don’t know what it is about him, but he knows these racecars so well. He puts so much attention into the little details. The cars are flawless and they’re fast everywhere we go.
The communication that he and I have, are one of the best in the garage. There’s no finger pointing, there’s no bad mouthing, it’s just about what we have to do to get better, and what do we have to do to put ourselves in position to win, and if we do win why didn’t we win by more?
TC: You’re very active on twitter @joeycoulter. This is a really easy and fun place where fans can interact with you. How important is social media in the NASCAR landscape, and what are your thoughts on the #NASCAR Twitter page?
JC: I think Twitter is a great idea, and Facebook too. Social media in general is really cool. For one its exciting for the fans, because they like to know what we do, but also its exciting for the drivers.
Its pretty neat to interact with that many people, and you run into people that are just that interested in what we do as drivers, and they are just that big of fans of the sport. I mean its a great feeling when you find out that there’s that many people out there that love NASCAR as much as they do and watch it as much as they do. It’s really cool to be a part of that.
TC: Speaking of Twitter I couldn’t help but notice something about you and a cornhole tournament, and a very coveted trophy in Michigan, explanation please?
JC: Yeah it’s a really cool group of people it’s called Michigan Infield. They have a website MichiganInfield.com and they’re on twitter (@MichiganInfield). The Michigan Infield has a king, and for the past three years me and the king have squared off for bragging rights over the infield.
If you haven’t ever been to the Michigan infield you need to go check it out, because its the coolest group of people, and the entire staff at Michigan are the nicest people – they’re perfect. I mean the president Roger Curtis is a super nice guy, he’s gotten behind the tournament of the King and Myself and we have this big trophy carved by a chainsaw. It’s a really big deal. There were probably 400 people standing around watching the tournament. Just a really fun group of guys, and its just a real fun way to blow off some steam after a race.
TC: I’m not a fortune teller, but I can see a win in your very near future. You’ve racked up quite a few top-five finishes in the truck series, what race do you have circled on the calendar as the place you could reach victory lane?
JC: As good as Harold has been building my trucks, and as good as the guys have been on pit road it’s wherever the next race is. For us it’s Kentucky. I feel like we have a really good shot at Kentucky, we should have won the race last year, but I made a pretty big rookie mistake on a restart and Kyle Busch got the best of me.
I feel like going back, the things we learned last year. The performance of the truck has been amazing this year. I really feel like we have a good shot at bringing the trophy back in Kentucky.
TC: The truck series schedule is pretty relaxed, and there are several off weeks to catch your breath. What do you do in your down time away from the track?
JC: Well my favorite thing is if I’m not racing, I’m usually racing. I’ve got a dirt late model now that Harrold got me into. He is co-owner in a dirt consulting team called wolf pack racing, and he got me involved in the dirt stuff.
I’m getting ready to put a super late model motor in it, I’ve been running the crate class. Getting ready to put the super motor in and we’ll see what we can do with that. So I do that just about every week that I have off.
TC: Fill in the blank, By 2018 Joey Coulter will be __________.
JC: Full-time Sprint Cup Series driver.
TC: If you could only have one of the following in your career what would it be? A truck series championship or one Sprint Cup Series win?
JC: That’s tough. That’s – huh. I guess I’d have to go with the championship. I just have a feeling that would be a little more useful on a resume maybe. I don’t know that’s a really good question. It’s a good one though. Can I have both options?
TC: Who has been you’re biggest mentor to this point in your career? Who is the one person in that Truck Series garage that you can always go to for great advice?
It’s really a lot of different people, but I think the biggest influence has been Austin Dillon. Him and I were teammates last year, he and his whole team did a great job getting the 22 team up to speed, and getting me up to speed.
I mean I had never driven a truck until last year, and from the first test we did at Homestead at the end of the year I mean he just constantly was working with me. We worked with each other extremely well. And by the end of the year it really allowed us to both go faster and we could help each other get through traffic and just both make our trucks better by working together.
I probably have learned the most in these trucks from him.
TC: Last year like you said you were teammates with Austin Dillon, now you’re teammates with his brother Ty. Is that weird?
JC: No it’s cool. They’re totally different personalities. Austin is more like his dad – Mike Dillon. Lots of energy, I wish I had that much energy but I just can’t do it.
Ty and I are more similar. We are both calm and kinda quiet. Not a whole lot of conversation going on between us all the time just because we are both real quiet people, but he’s great to work with and great to race against. They’re both great drivers, and it’s going to be cool when they’re racing together full-time.
TC: Which driver – current or retired – would you compare your driving style to?
Man. Tough question. I’m really going to have to do some thinking about this one. I’m trying to think if anybody has ever said, “Hey you kinda drive like —.”
Harold a couple of times said that I kind of remind him of Jeff Green a little bit. He said that [Jeff] Green you could really see him thinking while he was driving. I think the old expression is – When he was catching someone you could see him pass him before he caught him. Harold said he can see me do the same things. He does compare me to Jeff Green an awful lot.
TC: The inn is kind of full at RCR Racing at least in the Sprint Cup Series. Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Paul Menard are all currently there. Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon are on their way. If you are to advance to the Sprint Cup Series someday do you think its a forgone conclusion that it would be with another race team?
I mean it would be great, it would be awesome to drive for RCR in the Cup Series, and in every series its great to drive for them. You know if obviously the right opportunity came along you have to do what you have to do, but you know right now I’m just real focused on doing what I’ve got to finish up this year and letting all of that stuff work out.
From what I’ve heard nobody at RCR has complained about me too much. Everything changes so fast it’s hard to look even just a couple of years ahead and say, “man there’s not really any spots left,” Because anything can happen to any team here. It changes so fast so we’ll have to see, but if I had the choice I would stick with RCR in a heartbeat.
– Toby Christie is the lead Motorsports writer for Sicknissified.com, and he can be reached via twitter or email. Tweet him @Tobalical or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Sicknissified.com on facebook and twitter.
Joey Coulter drives the No. 22 Chevrolet Silverado for Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and can be reached on Twitter @JoeyCoulter or you can visit his website JoeyCoulter.com. He is also active on Facebook.