ESR claims three top-10s in hard fought Mansfield race Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton, Steve Arpin and Craig Goess, Jr. all scored top-10 finishes Saturday night on the competitive half-mile Mansfield Motorsports Park. As expected...
ESR claims three top-10s in hard fought Mansfield race
Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton, Steve Arpin and Craig Goess, Jr. all scored top-10 finishes Saturday night on the competitive half-mile Mansfield Motorsports Park.
As expected with short track racing, the 200-lap race was plagued with caution flags and lead changes but one thing that remained a constant throughout the race was the ESR presence near the front of the field.
Lofton's No. 6 Lofton Cattle Toyota led the field to the green flag after claiming the pole and went on to dominate the first 69 laps before making his mandatory pitstop. As Lofton led a string of lead lap cars down pitroad under caution, his ESR teammate Steve Arpin stayed on track, inheriting the lead.
As the green flag waved for the restart, Lofton was battling current points leader Parker Kligerman for position but before the two could settle the score, teammate Tim George Jr. got caught up in a racing incident also involving Chris Buescher. George Jr.'s No. 2 Ruby Tuesday/Chrome Hearts Toyota suffered right side and rearend damage after contact with the outside retaining wall.
Within laps, Arpin dropped his No. 20 Toyota to the attention of his crew as pitstops continued to cycle through the field. As mandated by the ARCA RE/MAX Series officials, each team was to pit at least once during the 100-mile race.
Back under green, the field bunched up while vying for position. During the melee, the Joey Coulter machine turned Lofton's No. 6 Toyota. After a quick trip down pitroad under the caution flag, Lofton's crew changed out the left side Hoosier tires and looked over the fender damage. The restart fell on lap 97 and Lofton lined up at the tailend of the lead lap in 21st.
Just past the halfway mark in the race, Lofton maneuvered his machine through the field into the 11th spot following a caution flag on lap 120. As he worked on his comeback charge, his teammates were pulling away without him. Craig Goess, Jr., who competed at Mansfield last year in a Camping World East Series race, was challenging in fifth while Arpin ran eighth.
Goess continued his run up front, narrowly avoiding the spinning car of Patrick Sheltra in turn 3 on lap 173. By the time the race resumed green flag racing after that incident, it became evident that Lofton would soon be joining the ESR battle up front. On lap 183 while running ninth, Lofton's damaged Toyota began clicking off the fastest laps of the race.
With just 10 laps remaining, teammates Arpin and Goess got racy, battling over the fourth position. But Goess had troubles just three laps from the finish, spinning, causing front-end damage to his No. 81 machine, bringing out the 13th and final caution flag of the night.
The yellow forced a green-white-checkered flag finish, extending the race to 202 laps. A hungry Lofton dug in on the restart, picking up another spot to finish fourth.
"We had such a great car tonight. We led a lot of laps and the car was handling great," Lofton said.
"Once I got to about ninth, the car came alive again and we finished fourth. I think if I had another five or so laps I could have taken a shot at Parker (winner, Kligerman). Congrats to those guys -- they're having a good season, but we're not done winning races either. This is a really solid team. I had a blast tonight!"
Arpin followed in fifth, improving his career-best finish of eighth.
"We had an awesome car tonight from the get-go. The car was a little tight but the guys tuned it and made it better and better all day," Arpin said after the race.
"This is a fun little racetrack. I think you are busier on this track than a quarter-mile dirt track. I was just along for the ride. The car was doing all of the work."
Despite his late race troubles, Goess held on to close out the top 10.
George Jr.'s troubles dropped him to 22nd at the finish.
The ARCA RE/MAX Series has a few weeks off before next taking to the track in Iowa on July 11th for the Prairie Meadows 200.