Matt Lofton's belated birthday wish: Victory in ARCA debut Feb. 6 at Daytona Mooresville, NC -- Driving the fastest Chevrolet in December ARCA testing, Matt Lofton is hoping Daytona's victory lane will be the perfect place for a belated ...
Matt Lofton's belated birthday wish: Victory in ARCA debut Feb. 6 at Daytona
Mooresville, NC -- Driving the fastest Chevrolet in December ARCA testing, Matt Lofton is hoping Daytona's victory lane will be the perfect place for a belated birthday celebration following the February 6th Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.
"I'll turn 25 the Monday before the race and that would be the ultimate way to celebrate it," said Lofton, whose lap at 181.91 miles an hour was sixth fastest in December 20th ARCA testing on the famed high-banked 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway.
The USAR Pro Cup series regular, seventh in 2009 standings, was largely overlooked by a throng of media on hand to monitor the stock car racing debut of Indy Car winner Danica Patrick, one of 10 women participating in the test.
"I'm perfectly fine flying under the radar right now," said the Roxboro, NC native with a hearty laugh. "Having Danica there was definitely exciting for the ARCA series. The exposure was good for all of us there. It was definitely one of the most publicized winter tests they've ever had."
He added: "My team went down there very prepared and we had some big expectations. We knew we had good equipment and were happy with the results. There's still room for improvement when we go back."
Crew chief Blake Bainbridge of Hueytown, AL, spearheaded the engineering effort from the team's shops at Mooresville, NC. Their Chevrolet is what Lofton calls "one of the best obsolete Sprint Cup Series cars still left."
He explained: "The car was built by Dale Earnhardt Incorporated and it still has all that technology intact. Many of the ARCA teams are using the old Cup cars that have been wrecked and rebuilt. But ours is fresh as a daisy."
Having a great engine is another difference maker Lofton pointed out. "We've got a Rick Hendrick engine provided by Automotive Specialists. I think the Toyota teams have about 20 more horsepower, but our car was consistently the fastest Chevy there. I guess we'll have to out handle them and drive harder."
Lofton knows some fans will wonder if he is related to 2009 ARCA champion Justin Lofton of California. "No," he said with a laugh, "but I guess it's funny I do have a brother named Justin and he lives in California, too. I am going to try my best to keep the Lofton name in the ARCA headlines though!"
Matt Lofton is a Florida native who grew up in the town of Roxboro, NC -- a few miles northwest of the state capital of Raleigh. He was a fiery, yet undersized football star at Person High School. But racing quickly became his first love. He won multiple times in go-cart racing before diving into the Late Model stock car ranks at nearby Orange County Speedway and South Boston (Va) Speedway.
"I cut my teeth on the short tracks and I guess that's what I'm still the best at," Lofton said. "But I really enjoyed drafting on the superspeedway. The short tracks are physically challenging and the big track was more of a mental thing."
Lofton said he is no longer "just a Saturday night racer. I work full time at our shop. I'm immersed in racing all the time. It has helped me learn the business side of the sport and definitely helped me as a driver. I now fully understand why we are running a certain package and I can communicate better what the car is doing when I'm on the track."
He'll have two very experienced hands alongside at Daytona in crew chief Bainbridge and spotter Tim Fedewa, a four-time winner in NASCAR's Nationwide Series.
"Blake was the youngest winning crew chief ever in the Nationwide series," said Lofton, referring to a 2004 victory at Darlington with Jamie McMurray at the wheel. "He knows what it takes to win at this level. Having Tim Fedewa spotting will definitely help us. I look forward to him coaching me home to victory lane. That would be some birthday celebration!"
-source: matt loftonPR