Eddie Sharp Racing To Continue Winning Legacy In 2010 With New Faces
Eddie Sharp Racing dominated the 2009 ARCA RE/MAX Series season, earning the championship with second year driver Justin Lofton. Throughout the season, Lofton, behind the wheel of the No. 6 ESR prepared Toyota, scored five pole awards, six race wins, 15 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes spanning the season's 21 events.
The question now is, who will carry on the tradition?
23-year-old Lofton, in addition to his crew chief Mark Rette, who earned the Cometic Crew Chief of the Year award in 2009, will be moving to NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition with Red Horse Racing in 2010, leaving the championship-winning ride vacant.
"As much as I hate to see either one of them go, it's what we do. It's what motivates me to not only take on the challenge of helping these drivers move on, but to put together an entire team worth of people. It's motivating and it's a positive thing. It shows the caliber of people that come here," Sharp said.
Regardless of who has come and gone over the last few seasons, one thing has remained the same, the top competition bred from within the Eddie Sharp Racing race shop. Since its inception in 2005, the Denver, North Carolina-based ESR organization has set itself apart from the competition by becoming the place for up and coming talent.
Though he makes it looks easy these days as he leads his three-car stable, car owner Sharp's rise within motorsports was at times daunting. Rather than taking on a four-wheeled speed demon for his introduction, Sharp took a different route, that by the way of water, racing hydroplane boats in his native Florida.
It wasn't long however before Sharp ventured into the cockpit of a stock car and his career followed the familiar racing path into North Carolina. In 1993, Sharp made his NASCAR debut, running two races in what was then known as the Busch Series.
With Ken Schrader and Johnny Benson as mentors, Sharp then started his own team in the American Speed Association, a short track division that bred racers such as Benson, Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace.
After his stint in ASA, Sharp decided to climb out from behind the wheel and took on the role of crew chief. In 1999 Sharp called the shots for Bill Baird in the ARCA RE/MAX Series en route to the championship.
Over the next few seasons, Sharp reinstated his car owner title, only this time in ARCA. Simultaneously, he continued to crew chief, including a stint in the Sprint Cup Series.
In 2006 Sharp envisioned his long-term goals as a team owner and began the first steps in achieving them by building [sharplofton.jpg] a 20,000 square foot race shop in Denver, N.C. And it wasn't long before ESR grew a reputation for developing young talent. Over the last three years, Sharp has helped usher in the careers of Scott Lagasse, Chase Miller, T.J. Bell, Michael McDowell, and most recently, 2009 Champion Justin Lofton.
Over the last three seasons, the team has notched close to 20 race wins. In addition to the championship in 2009, ESR notched impressive stats across the board. Between its three teams, the company produced a whopping 33 top-10 finishes, with two drivers (Lofton and rookie Craig Goess) finishing within the top five in the point standings. After finishing second and third in the previous two seasons, the team also wrapped up the owner's championship in 2009.
With not just one, but possibly three rides open for 2010, Sharp is on the lookout for the next young talent to carry on the winning tradition that his team has become synonymous for.
Additional 2009 Honors for Eddie Sharp Racing
- Justin Lofton,Aaron's Lap Leader - led 1,005 laps spanning 15 races
- Justin Lofton, car owner Jessica Sharp, Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge
- Justin Lofton, Jessica Sharp, Eddie Sharp Racing, car owner's championship
- Mark Rette, Cometic Crew Chief of the Year
- Mark Rette, Klotz Engine Mechanic
- Rookie Craig Goess, fifth place points finish, 12 top-10 finishes
- First year stock car driver Tim George Jr., 11th place points finish, two top-10 finishes