LONG POND, Pa. — Joey Coulter had seven laps left separating him from his first career NASCAR win or another close call.
He made the move that got him the checkered flag.
Coulter sped from third to first off the final restart to win Saturday for the first time in the Trucks Series at Pocono Raceway.
Coulter won Saturday in his 36th career Trucks start and he’s winless in 19 Nationwide races.
“They say once you win one, the others are easier,” Coulter said. “I hope they’re right.”
His emotional mother was among the first join him in Victory Lane. She gushed as she said the 22-year-old Coulter had worked hard every single day of his life since he was 8 to have a moment like this one.
Team owner Richard Childress said the win as long time coming.
“Joey’s had a really fast truck and it was misfortune that took him out of the winner’s circle,” he said. “I’m really happy for his family. They’ve been there at every race pulling for him.”
James Buescher was second and pole winner Nelson Piquet Jr. was third in the 50-lap race. Matt Crafton and Denny Hamlin round out the top five.
Coulter is the ninth different winner this season and fourth first-time winner in 2012. He had never finished higher than third in the Trucks Series.
The last seven laps were the only ones he led.
Coulter send his team had spent plenty of time working on improving restarts, which had been a weak point for the No. 22. On the final restart, he dipped underneath past Piquet and never looked back.
“As soon as the spotter said green, I just put the foot to the floor,” he said. “It’s what we needed to do. We needed to make moves quick. I knew we had to get it done right there or we weren’t going to have a second chance at it.”
Childress said he wants Coulter to run fulltime in Nationwide next season.
The win was emotional for all involved. Crew chief Harold Holly hadn’t won a NASCAR race since 2004 with Bobby Hamilton Jr.
“Just to see him back up here in the winner’s circle with a smile on his face was worth it all,” Childress said.
Piquet got involved in an early-race dustup that knocked Todd Bodine out of the race. Bodine hit Piquet, who spun and slammed into the wall. His race over, Bodine threw his helmet at Piquet’s car.
Timothy Peters holds an eight-point lead over Ty Dillon in the standings.