In Addition To Championship, Lofton Shot-Caller Rette Wins Crew Chief of the Year
Mark Rette, crew chief of the No. 6 Lofton Cattle Toyota, led Justin Lofton to six race wins and the 2009 championship in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. His guidance not only paid off for Lofton but also allowed Rette, a first year crew chief within ARCA, to be named the Cometic Crew Chief of the Year.
"To me, next to winning the championship, it's the biggest thing I've accomplished," 31-year-old Rette said of the honor.
Rette joined Eddie Sharp Racing with a wealth of experience spanning NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series competition. He's visited victory lane with some of the sport's best, including Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Casey Mears, and Reed Sorenson. Before teaming up with Sharp and Lofton, he spent over three seasons serving as car chief at Ganassi Racing in the Nationwide Series.
With all of that experience behind him, it was time for Rette to step up as crew chief. He joined ESR in the eleventh hour, just after Christmas, but with plenty of time to prepare before the season-opening race in Daytona.
"Mark and Justin developed a friendship and had chemistry before we even got it going. When Bob (Lofton, Justin's Dad) called me at Christmas, we had a 30-minute conversation. We had the people. We had a plan. There wasn't a contract. It was, 'This is what we're going to do. This is who we're going to do it with," explained car owner Sharp.
"Mark came in from working at Ganassi from a very high profile type of place. It would be easy for him to come into this deal thinking 'This is beneath me.' But he came into this fully committed and believing that we were going to do this. He deserves all of the credit for the team that he put below him and the foundation that was poured. The credit for the team goes to Mark Rette one hundred percent."
It didn't take long for Lofton and Rette to prove that they were the right pairing. Lofton nabbed his first of five poles out of the gate at Daytona. Three races later, the duo claimed their first win of the season at Talladega.
Two minor hiccups throughout the season by way of uncontrollable mechanical gremlins weren't enough to halt Lofton and Rette's dominance. Throughout the season they earned an impressive five pole awards, six race wins, and led the series with 15 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes spanning the 21-race schedule.
"We sat down at the beginning of the year and said, 'We're going to win this championship.' There were a couple of times throughout the year that I got a little nervous. But the next week, we recovered and we were right back on that path," Rette said.
Throughout the year, Rette notched the Cometic Crew Chief of the Race honors nine times; Daytona, Talladega, both Salem events, both Toledo events, Berlin, Pocono, and Chicagoland. Of those races, the No. 6 Lofton Cattle Toyota team took home the race win at Talladega, Pocono, Chicagoland, Berlin, Toledo and Salem.
Added Lofton, "I'm really happy that Mark was able to be recognized for what he did this year. We've developed a good relationship. We work really well together and I'm hoping we can turn that into many more race wins and championships for years to come."
In addition to being named the top crew chief of 2009, Rette also earned the Klotz Engine Mechanic award.
"It means a lot to win the Cometic Crew Chief of the Year award. The championship meant everything to me. After all of the long hours and time away from my family, it all paid off," he added.