In recent years, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Joey Coulter and his team compete in the Dirt Late Model world. This weekend, Coulter is getting back on the blacktop, making his first-ever start in a Tour-type Modified.
Coulter will make his first-ever start in a pavement Modified, competing with the SMART Modified Tour at Florence Motor Speedway (SC) Saturday night. Before a test a couple of weeks ago, the former NASCAR Truck Series race winner had never set foot in a Modified.
“Randy Renfrow has been taking care of the Coulter Motorsports pavement division, if you want to call it that,” explained Coulter. “He got a hold of one mid last year and has been slowly putting it together.
“We had a chance to test it at Hickory a couple of weeks ago. Things went well and we said, you know what, there’s a race coming up at Florence, let’s give it a shot.”
It will be the first time Coulter has raced on a pavement oval in any kind of car in more than a year.
“Technically speaking, in July I ran a Champ Car race at Daytona on the road course. As far as a pavement oval, it’s been a year and a half, probably.”
With that said, transitioning back to the pavement from dirt has its perks. For instance, Coulter will have more time to practice on Saturday at Florence than he would normally receive during a night at the dirt track.
“I was telling Randy that, with the dirt racing I’m doing, I’m used to getting three laps and then getting ready to qualify. I think having some practice is going to help, but I’ll have a lot to figure out in a short amount of time.”
Like practice, Coulter will have more tire than he’s accustomed to this weekend in the Modified. That is a cause for concern over the course of the 99-lap feature race.
“My biggest concern is tire wear. I’ve never driven a car on pavement with that much tire. I told Randy at Hickory, ‘I don’t know what hurting the tires feels like when I have this much grip.’ These cars have so much more grip than anything I’ve ever driven.”
However, Coulter takes comfort that, just like any race car he's ever driven, the Tour-type Modified has a few key components.
“The nice part is, like every other car I’ve ever driven, it has four tires, a steering wheel and a little stick in the middle to play with. It is completely different, but at the same time, there is familiarity.
“It’s pavement, it’s a circle, it’s four tires and a steering wheel. I’ll do the best I can to rely on my experience from the last 20 years of driving. I’ll find the guys who are fast in practice and try to learn from them.”
The SMART Modified Tour will compete in the Smart Chevrolet 99 Saturday at Florence Motor Speedway. Click here to watch Saturday's race live on Speed51.TV.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Joey Coulter Facebook