Engine Failure and Wrong Place at Wrong Time Make for Frustrating Weekend for Lofton Engine ends day at Lime Rock; early wreck puts No. 20 laps down in Springfield Springfield, Ill. (August 17, 2008) -- Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton ...
Engine Failure and Wrong Place at Wrong Time Make for Frustrating Weekend
Engine ends day at Lime Rock; early wreck puts No. 20 laps down in Springfield
Springfield, Ill. (August 17, 2008) -- Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton traveled from Connecticut to Illinois this weekend, pulling double duty, racing in both the NASCAR Camping World Series East and the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Neither race satisfied the competitive driver as rotten luck plagued the weekend's events.
The first leg of the journey ended early with engine woes at Lime Rock Park in the No. 2 Greenville-Toyota/Lofton Cattle Toyota in Saturday's Mohegan Sun NASCAR 200. Lofton then climbed into his No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge at the Illinois State Fairgrounds for his first taste of dirt track racing. Following a long and frustrating day in the dust, Lofton took the checkered flag in the 24th position.
"It was definitely a learning experience," said Lofton about the Sunday ARCA event. "It was fun but I have to admit I am looking forward to getting back to pavement."
With Friday's qualifying rained out at Lime Rock, the field was set by owner's points. Lofton and the No. 2 team were forced to start in the 17th position. Lofton took the green flag on Saturday afternoon and quickly charged through the field, moving up to the sixth position in only nine laps around the 1.53-mile road course. While under caution, Lofton reported that the Camry didn't sound quite right and brought the No. 2 down pit road. The team quickly lifted the hood of the smoking car and ascertained the damage to be terminal. Lofton finished a very disappointing 30th but certainly made his presence known. In addition to his skillful driving, images captured of the No. 2 with four wheels off the ground definitely caught people's attention.
"I know we could have contended for the win," said Lofton. "That's what makes this so frustrating. We had a fantastic car and I have no doubt that if the engine would not have failed, we would have been battling Kobyluck up front. The team did a great job. I had a lot of fun working with them this weekend."
That evening, Lofton boarded a plane for St. Louis, Missouri and drove to Springfield, Illinois for the Sunday ARCA RE/MAX event. With only one lap to qualify the No. 22 Lofton Cattle Dodge, Lofton was on a tear for a fast lap when the back end of the Charger snapped around on the driver. Lofton skillfully kept the car off the wall and returned to the start finish line with no damage. Lofton was forced to take a provisional for the Allen Crowe Memorial 100.
In the first 23 laps of the race, Lofton hammered his way up 11 spots to the 23rd position. On the 24th lap, Lofton suffered damage by a spinning car. Lofton lost valuable laps in the pits as the Lofton Cattle team worked hard to get the Dodge back to the track. The quick action of the team got Lofton back into the race while still under caution and only four laps down to the leaders. Lofton apologized to his team for the mishap and Crew Chief Wayne Carroll reminded his young driver that "it's ok, it happens. That was not your fault for sure."
Lofton battled through the remainder of the race, climbing to the 24th position by the time the checkered flag was dropped. Exhausted, filthy, and very disappointed, Lofton left the fairgrounds looking forward to sleeping in on Monday before heading up to Chicagoland Speedway to test on, oh yes, pavement!
Next Stop: Lofton and his No. 20 Lofton Cattle team will have a weekend off before hitting the dirt again at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on Labor Day. SIM Factory Pole Qualifying takes place on Monday, September 1st at 12:00 p.m. Driver introductions will start at 1:45 p.m. and the green flag for the Southern Illinois 100 drops Monday at 2:00 p.m. All times listed are EASTERN.