Things look considerably different these days at Rum Runner Racing
Joey Coulter, a former NASCAR driver who has owned and driven for the team in dirt late model events around the country the last few years, has stepped out of the seat of his No. 2 machine.
The reason? His wife, Jessica, received a promotion at Simpson Performance Products, but the job required she work out of the company’s corporate offices in New Braunfels, Texas. The move to Texas was going to make it difficult for Coulter to continue racing, so he handed the reins to family friend Brandon Overton.
“Obviously, the move to Texas was kind of the icing on the cake,” said Coulter, who has one NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory on his racing résumé. “We’ve known each other since I started dirt racing about four years ago, five years ago now. We’ve just always been able to work well together. He got me up to speed a lot faster than I think I should have and we’ve just maintained that relationship over the last four years.”
Overton, a native of Evans, Ga., has been one of the most successful racers in dirt late model racing the last few years. Driving for Randy Weaver and Chip Stone in 2017, Overton had a career year that saw him win races across the country, including a marquee victory in the Firecracker 100 at Pennsylvania’s Lernerville Speedway.
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Things didn’t go quite as well last year, with Overton parting ways with the Weaver/Stone pairing midway through the year. However, after leaving the team, Overton got hot and rattled off several victories, including a $50,000 score in the Hillbilly Hundred at West Virginia’s Tyler County Speedway.
He concluded the year by scoring three victories during a two-week period, ending the campaign with a $20,000 triumph in the Turkey 100 at Georgia’s Swainsboro Raceway. Of his more than 10 victories in 2018, Overton said they came in four different race cars.
“To go to Swainsboro (for the Turkey 100), I’ve been trying to win that race for damn near 10 years,” Overton said. “Something always happened. Flat tires or just something happens in the heat race and you’ve got to start 20th. I don’t know. I just sometimes feel like when it’s your time to win you can’t do anything wrong. I guess right at the end of the year it was meant for me to pick a couple wins off. It definitely helps.
“The year I had before with (Randy) Weaver I think we won $300,000,” Overton noted. “To try and come back from … we didn’t have a very good start to the year, so to get some income right at the end of the year makes you feel good about what you did.
“I just got lucky,” Overton added. “Everything went right for me. I hit all the setups just right and had some good luck.”[caption id="attachment_288752" align="alignright" width="300"] Brandon Overton on track at East Bay Raceway Park. (Mike Ruefer photo)[/caption]
Despite his late-season success, Overton believes the opportunity to race one car for one team is what he needs to produce consistently strong results.
“I know everybody likes to think I can get in different cars and do good, but man, to make this better than what I am I really need to be in one car with one team and focus on that,” said Overton. “It’s hard to build anything when you work on the loads and all the spring combinations on one day in one car and then you get in another one. It’s really hard to adjust your mind back to thinking about what this car likes and stuff.”
When the opportunity arose for Overton to jump in the Rum Runner Racing entry, he says it was essentially a no-brainer. By now he’s known Coulter and his crew chief, Harold Holly, for several years and they all get along well, so it was a perfect fit.
“The timing and everything with this deal is just right,” Overton said. “I didn’t have a really … well, not a stable ride. I knew it wasn’t going to be long term. It all kind of fell in my lap pretty much. He’s going to have to move and not do as much racing as he usually did, so I don’t know. It made my decision a lot easier. Just the timing was right to do it.
“I’ve known his family, I’ve known them all. We work really good together. Hell, I didn’t even have to think about it. I think Joey’s daddy called me and he said, ‘You in? You out?’ I said, ‘I’m in.’ It wasn’t a very lengthy phone call.”