ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Joey Coulter is off to a great start at Michigan Int'l Speedway. The Miami Springs, Florida driver, who turned his first laps around the historic two-mile oval today, also posted the fasted speed in ARCA RE/MAX Series open testing Wednesday.
Coulter, in the no. 16 Chevrolet, circled the track in 39.116 seconds for an average speed of 184.068 mph.
"We made a lot of headway today," said the 18-year-old Coulter. "Absolutely love the track; it's awesome, although I'm still getting used to these big tracks. To me, it was easier to pick up on the short tracks, like Salem and Toledo - it was all I've ever done. I'm not used to places like this. You're going a lot faster, but everything inside seems slower. You don't dart off in the corners like you do on the short tracks, but we're learning."
Twenty-four drivers posted time and speed during the open test in preparation for the Racing For Wildlife 200 at Michigan Friday, June 12, the 28th appearance of the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Michigan since 1980.
Jesse Smith, in the no. 25 Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet, was second on the speed charts at 182.672 mph.
"Our test didn't start off very good, but we got a lot better," said the 19-year-old Wildwood, Missouri driver. "The front nose was really shoving at first, but we got that under control now. We always do good in the tests; I just need to come back and do that in the race."
Current ARCA RE/MAX Series point leader Justin Lofton, in Eddie Sharp's no. 6 Toyota, was third quickest overall at 182.232 mph.
"We had a super tight push today," said Lofton, the defending race winner. "We got it a little better, but not where it needs to be. We're just going to leave it alone; we know what we have. When we come back, we'll adjust to it. Don't want to loosen it up too much and get that further behind. It's a new car, so we're still figuring things out. That, and I'm still learning my crew chief (Mark Rette), and Mark's still learning me."
Lofton also learned that the Michigan oval changes a lot according to weather.
"I learned that when the track gets rubbered-up, it slows down. After it rained, the track acted a lot different than it did before it rained."
Lofton, along with rookie Parker Kligerman, also joined the media for a question and answer session during the lunch hour. Lofton and Kligerman fielded questions from a half-dozen members of the media including the Detroit Free Presses Mike Brudenell.
Rookie Brian Ickler, making his first Michigan appearance, was fourth quickest on the charts overall in the no. 51 Toyota.
"The track definitely changes a lot with the weather," said Ickler, a four-time NASCAR Camping World East Series winner. "The track had a lot more grip this morning. I'm just getting used to how big this place is, all its different lines and finding the right rubber on the track. We were actually really loose this morning, and then went too far on adjustments and got too tight. We changed everything - wedge, sway bars, front and rear springs; we're learning."
Rookie Mikey Kile, in the Brad Keselowski Racing no. 29 Chevrolet, was fifth fastest at 181.164 mph.
Penske Racing development driver Parker Kligerman was sixth fastest in the no. 77 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge.
"We've been hindered today by our fenders rubbing," said the 18-year-old Westport, Connecticut high school senior. "First it was both, now it's just the left-front (fender) rubbing. We know what to do to fix it, but we can't do it here. It'll have to be fixed back at the shop. Still, I've learned so much today; it's been a very productive test and definitely worth our while."
Kligerman, currently second in ARCA RE/MAX Series overall points, is the most recent winner on tour with his victory at Toledo Speedway back on May 17th. Kligerman is also currently leading the Rookie of the Year standings.
The test session was lengthened by one hour as a result of early morning showers that delayed the initial start until noon. There were no on-track incidents.
ARCA RE/MAX Series Open Testing Results
Michigan Int'l Speedway (5-27-09)
POS NO DRIVER MAKE TIME SPEED
1 16b Joey Coulter Chevy 39.116 184.068
2 25a Jessie Smith Chevy 39.415 182.672
3 6 Justin Lofton Toyota 39.510 182.232
4 51 Brian Ickler Toyota 39.513 182.219
5 29 Mikey Kile Chevy 39.743 181.164
6 77 Parker Kligerman Dodge 39.746 181.150
7 81a Craig Goess Toyota 39.805 180.882
8 11 Bryan Silas Ford 39.814 180.841
9 20 Steve Arpin Toyota 39.976 180.108
10 81b Craig Goess Toyota 40.102 179.542
11 16a Joey Coulter Chevy 40.210 179.060
12 44 Frank Kimmel Ford 40.308 178.625
13 25c Justin Marks Toyota 40.351 178.434
14 25b Justin Marks Chevy 40.360 178.394
15 60a Patrick Sheltra Dodge 40.413 178.160
16 42 Clay Rogers Chevy 40.423 178.116
17 31 Austin Dillon Chevy 40.477 177.879
18 2 Tim George Jr. Toyota 40.618 177.261
19 60d Patrick Sheltra Toyota 40.965 175.760
20 1 Tom Hessert Ford 41.241 174.584
21 1a Damon Lusk Ford 41.293 174.364
22 32 James Buescher Toyota 41.501 173.490
23 70 Tony Palumbo Ford 41.510 173.452
24 27 Michael Simko Chevy 41.555 173.264
25 58 Chad Hackenbracht Chevy 41.709 172.625
26 28 Larry Hollenbeck Chevy 42.826 168.122
27 7 Kent Schenkel Dodge 43.091 167.088
28 0 Zachary Gibson Chevy 45.812 157.164