At one point in time, Coleman Pressley was a heralded up-and-coming driving prospect, who was attempting to make his way up the NASCAR National Series ladder. However, when funding dried up in the early 2010s, Pressley transitioned into a career as a spotter after 12 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts.
As a spotter, Pressley hasn’t missed a beat, as he had a major hand in Joey Logano’s 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship effort this season.
Saturday night, at the Fall Brawl at Hickory Motor Speedway, the 34-year-old Pressley dusted off his driving suit and helmet and delivered a big-time win in front of his family, his friends, and a raucous crowd that braved the super chilly elements.
Although the weekend ended with a win, Pressley, who made the decision to find a ride for the Fall Brawl when the race was rescheduled back in October, admitted that he wasn’t sure how competitive he would be until after a test session the week of the race.
“Competitively, I didn’t know where I was going to stand going into it,” Pressley said in an interview with TobyChristie.com. “Once I made a test day on the Wednesday before the race, some of the techniques I remember from Hickory back in the day started coming back. I realized I still have the potential to run well. So, I was going into Saturday with some confidence.”
His confidence was building, but Pressley would still have to contend with the supremely talented drivers that race every week at the 3/8-mile short track.
“Honestly, every single person I raced in that field the other day, it’s pretty unbelievable the talent they have,” Pressley stated with sincerity. “And that’s what I tell everyone. You never underestimate competitors that race at a local short track every single week, because unfortunately, 80% of those guys and girls, there are a lot of girls with talent too, they’re never going to get an opportunity to reach a national level.
“But for natural talent, they probably have just as much as Joey Logano, who won the championship. Never underestimate the ability of your competitors, and there were a lot of them there this weekend.”
Due to the impeccable talent in the field, Pressley started back in the 16th position in the 23-car field and as a result, he decided to methodically work through the race, instead of attempting to charge through the field in a handful of laps.
“We started deep in the field, and I knew my best bet was to try to outsmart everyone and save my tires,” Pressley explained. “[I] Slowly positioned myself inside the top three or four.”
When the top two drivers in the race — Doug Barnes Jr. and Connor Hall — crashed with just 20 laps to go, it put Pressley in a position to pounce.
“Once they did that, we were running second. At that point, I just tried to hang my tongue out and go get it,” Pressley joked.
Go get it he did as he came to the finish line ahead of Charlie Watson, Jaiden Reyna, Trent Barnes, and Isabella Robusto for the victory.
Adding to the already incredible story of Pressley scoring the win was the fact that Joey Logano, the driver that he spots for in the NASCAR Cup Series, was on the radio serving as his spotter for the event.
Logano was incredible in the spotter role, something that surprised Pressley very little, as he sees Logano as a true racer.
“He was great. He’s a racer. Racers can do a lot of jobs,” Pressley stated of Logano. “Like you see with me going from the driver’s seat to the spotter’s stand or someone like Paul Wolfe or Matt McCall going from the driver’s seat to a crew chief spot. If you’re a racer, you can do about anything and Joey was a great spotter. He knew all of the information that I give him and all of the information that he would want as a driver.”
Not only was Logano skilled on the radio, but Pressley believes he and Logano running a race in the other’s shoes at Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday will translate to even more success together in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2023.
“Ultimately, I think it’s going to make us even better when we start the Cup season next year because we each have a greater appreciation for each other,” Pressley explained. “We joked after the race about some of the challenges that he faced, which I think are second nature or kind of normal. But the same thing with him in the driver’s seat. It’s amazing the amount of feedback that he can take and the communication he can give while still racing at a competitive level. Because my eyes were all forward and I can’t do the level of stuff he does.”
Pressley says that a lot of what helped him seize the night stemmed from his time spotting for two of the best drivers in clutch situations in the sport today — Logano and Brad Keselowski.
While rising to the occasion to score a big race win and taking home the large Hickory Fall Brawl trophy as a driver was incredible for Pressley, the fact that he had the chance to show his children that he is a driver was the ultimate trophy at the end of the day.
“First, just my wife and kids,” Pressley said of what made the night at Hickory Motor Speedway one of the most special in his racing career. “My wife dated me through High School and was at Hickory for all of those races when I ran well, so, she’s seen me at a competitive level behind the driver’s seat, but my kids had never gotten an opportunity to even see me sit behind a race car.
“They’ve known dad as a spotter all of their lives, not a driver. That was the most special thing to me, to get a picture with them in a driver’s suit in front of a race car with my name on it, before the race. And to be able to get a picture with it in victory lane after the race means more to me than anything. That’s ultimately the whole reason I did this, to hopefully get a picture framed up for the house of us in victory lane.”
Photos will for sure be placed on the mantle at Pressley’s home, and who knows, maybe there will be some copies made for his father Robert Pressley. For the elder Pressley, who won a total of 12 races in NASCAR National Series competition, Hickory is a very special place. His legendary father Bob Pressley won two Hickory track championships in the 1970s, and it was the place where his son Coleman launched his budding racing career.
Coleman Pressley says he was very happy to share Saturday night with his parents, and a lot of the people who helped him get to the point where he is now in the industry.
“My dad, he hasn’t been to a racetrack since I stopped driving. So, to see him excited in his natural element was really cool,” Pressley said. “My mom, the old crew guys that helped me on my late model, they were all there. It was pretty special.”
Pressley also took pride in how the feel of the Fall Brawl event played out live at Hickory Motor Speedway.
“Phenomenal. There was a huge crowd there, especially for how chilly it was. It is great to see Hickory Speedway booming again. It holds a special place in my heart,” Presley said. “That’s where I learned to race and to see it still succeeding with a good car count, a lot of competitive cars, a lot of the old officials that are still there from when I raced there, and the fans cheering in the stands. It makes it hard to travel the Cup Series every weekend and have to watch it on Flo, but to be there in person and see it happen, it all makes it worthwhile.”
So, will Pressley mix it up in more short track races this offseason like the South Carolina 400, which will feature Dale Earnhardt Jr., or perhaps the Snowball Derby?
“No, the Fall Brawl was it for me,” Pressley chuckled. “After the race the other night, I actually had a lot of calls asking if I wanted to go run one of those races, and nope. I’m going to take my kids to Disney World, and I am actually coaching Middle School Basketball this winter. My focus from here until the Clash is going to be on my kids and my family and going to Nashville to celebrate a NASCAR Cup Series Championship.”
It’ll be one and done for Pressley as far as racing this offseason, but now he’s riding the high of winning a NASCAR Cup Series championship with Logano and Team Penske, and now he’s riding his own personal high of scoring a win at Hickory. Now, he can recharge the batteries and be ready to fire out of the gates with the No. 22 team for their championship defense in 2023.