Road course gives Team ESR three top-10s; George Jr. career-best of fifth On Sunday, for the first time this season, all three Eddie Sharp Racing entries finished within the top 10 in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. The feat came on an unexpected track,...
Road course gives Team ESR three top-10s; George Jr. career-best of fifth
On Sunday, for the first time this season, all three Eddie Sharp Racing entries finished within the top 10 in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. The feat came on an unexpected track, the challenging road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park. A graduate of Grand Am, Tim George Jr., who is in his first year of stock car competition, took his learned road racing skills and put them to good use in the South Jersey Building Trades 150, piloting the No. 2 Ruby Tuesday Toyota to a career-best showing in fifth. ESR teammates Justin Lofton and Craig Goess followed not too far behind, in sixth and 10th respectively.
"All in all I'm happy with the result, and I'm very proud of the guys on the No. 2 Ruby Tuesday team, who brought this car back to life and gave me the shot at running as well as we did," George Jr. said.
The weekend in New Jersey was an obstacle from start to finish for all of Team ESR. On Saturday, lingering mist left the track surface wet and slick, but practice and qualifying continued, without the use of rain tires.
George Jr. got caught up in an accident during the final practice and was forced to skip qualifying in order for the team to make repairs to his damaged Toyota. He made the field by the way of a provisional while teammates Lofton and Goess qualified fourth and ninth.
At the drop of the green on Sunday, George Jr. quickly got to work, picking up positions after starting at the back of the pack. By the time the first caution flag waved just four laps into the race, he was already scored in the 11th position, up 20 spots.
"From the drop of the green flag, I was on a mission. We really needed this finish. It feels great to bring home a top five. They prepared me a top five car and that's what I delivered," George Jr. said of his run.
By lap 10, George Jr. broke into the top 10, where he would stay for the remainder of the day with his teammates. Lofton ran a clean and quiet race, spending most of his time primed in the third position.
Goess however, had slight troubles on pitroad, which dropped the No. 81 team down a lap. With only three caution flags falling throughout the 67-lap race, he wasn't able to receive the free-pass to reclaim the lost position.
The final yellow of the day dropped with just nine laps left to run. Lofton led George Jr. down pitroad along with the remaining cars on the lead lap for one final change of tires. The restart dropped with five to go.
As George Jr. focused on picking up more positions his teammate Lofton was content with finishing third as the big picture of points racing played in the back of his mind. With the checkered flag in sight, Lofton wasn't expecting contact from a first-time competitor. Road racer Spencer Pumpelly, who was making his series debut, got into the No. 6 Toyota and knocked Lofton off track on the last lap, stealing a top three and dropping him to sixth at the rundown.
"I understand that he (Pumpelly) was here to win and points meant nothing to him but they mean everything to us right now. Every week they tell us in the driver's meeting to race smart and I'm not sure what he was thinking. He didn't give us any room and just drove over us," a disappointed Lofton said.
Just car lengths behind Lofton, Goess crossed the finish line in 10th, rounding out the ESR domination within the top 10.
"For our first road course, finished 10th, it's not terrible. We had some problems on pitroad. The guys messed up on the left front. I messed up and stalled the car. That got us a lap down. It's a team effort. Then, we pitted late. In hindsight, it turned out to not be the thing to do. We should have been about four positions higher based on the lap times we were running towards the end," he said.
The finishes at New Jersey shook things up in the point standings. Lofton is now tied for the points lead with Parker Kligerman entering the next event at Salem Speedway. Goess picked up a spot in the points, reclaiming fifth. George Jr. maintained his position, just outside of the top 10 in 11th.
Team ESR will next hit the track at Salem Speedway on Saturday, September 19th for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic 200.