Berlin: Justin Lofton race report

Lofton Starts and Finishes Fourth at Berlin Marne, Mich. (July 26, 2008) -- Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton and his No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge have become a familiar sight in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. In the last four races Lofton has...

Lofton Starts and Finishes Fourth at Berlin

Marne, Mich. (July 26, 2008) -- Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton and his No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge have become a familiar sight in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. In the last four races Lofton has recorded one win, one pole position, two top 5's, and three top 10's. Saturday night, Lofton sported one of the best cars on the track at Berlin Raceway. Qualifying fourth, Lofton held the lead for 22 laps and finished the Berlin ARCA 200 in the fourth position.

"It was a good night for the No. 20 Lofton Cattle team," said Lofton. "We were the best car out there towards the middle of the race but I think we went the wrong way on an adjustment on our last stop. We were still a solid top 5 but just didn't have it to get past the 44 and 16 so we could challenge Scott for the win. We knew this was a good car coming here. We have all four fenders still on it so we'll pack it up and unload it at the next short track."

On Saturday afternoon, Lofton qualified the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge in the fourth position with a lap around the Michigan short track in 17.151 seconds.

As the sun set and temperatures dropped, it was a perfect night for racing in Marne, Michigan. The green flag dropped at 8:36 p.m. Lofton remained in the top 5 until coming in for a pit stop under the lap 34 caution flag.

"Going into [turn] three we're sliding really bad," radioed Lofton. "It's kind of tight off because it is so loose going in and I can't put any input into it." Lofton also reported that oil and water temperatures were rising.

During the first pit stop, the Lofton Cattle crew put on two new right-side tires, removed all the tape from the front grill to cool the car, and made a wedge adjustment to work on the car's handling.

Lofton restarted the race in the 14th position and quickly moved to the front of the field. Following the fourth caution of the day on lap 73, Lofton was in the third position. Battling the No. 1 car [Hessert] for several laps, Lofton was able to get a nose inside while coming off of turn four and drove past for the second position as they raced down the front stretch. Frank Kimmel, who still had yet to pit, was in the lead.

When Kimmel came to pit under caution at lap 107, the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge took the lead position. Teammate Scott Speed had moved into third place under the green flag run. Lofton held the lead with no challenges from behind for 22 laps until the team came down pit road at lap 129.

The team pitted on under caution for four tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment for the "little tight off" handling that Lofton reported. Lofton restarted the race in the 9th position when the green flag waved once again.

Lofton moved easily back into the top 5 and, during the lap 147 caution, chatted on the radio with Crew Chief Wayne Carroll.

"We're good, but it just feels like the camber is a little off," reported Lofton.

"10-4," replied Carroll. "You and Scott are the fastest cars on the track. One lap it's you and one lap it's him. If you both stay clean, you'll be battling this out at the end."

"I'm just going to take what I have and drive the wheels off of it," replied Lofton.

With a chuckle, Carroll replied, "I don't doubt that at all."

On lap 151, the race restarted and Lofton was in the third position behind teammate Scott Speed. Unfortunately the adjustments on the final stop failed to help the Dodge and the No. 16 slipped past Lofton. Allgaier, however, would be the only car to pass Lofton for the remainder of the evening.

Lofton held onto the fourth position for the remaining laps and finished the Berlin ARCA 200 in the fourth position. Eddie Sharp Racing teammate Scott Speed moved past Frank Kimmel for the win.

"I think we were better than a fourth place car tonight," said Lofton, "but to finish behind short track stars like Kimmel and Allgaier is definitely not something to be disappointed in. Congratulations to Scott and his team on their win. I'm looking forward to going to Pocono this weekend. Pocono was a real turning point for us this spring. We qualified well and had a very strong car. I definitely think we will continue our trend of running up front."

-credit: esr

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Frank Kimmel , Scott Speed , Justin Lofton