ARCA Point Leader Lofton Still in Search of First Toledo Triumph TOLEDO OH (9-2-09) - The fastest car doesn't always win. Current ARCA RE/MAX Series point leader Justin Lofton can attest to that; especially when it comes to Toledo Speedway, the...
ARCA Point Leader Lofton Still in Search of First Toledo Triumph
TOLEDO OH (9-2-09) - The fastest car doesn't always win. Current ARCA RE/MAX Series point leader Justin Lofton can attest to that; especially when it comes to Toledo Speedway, the site of the next event on tour - the ARCA RE/MAX 200 presented by Federated and Belle Tire this Friday, September 4th.
Lofton understands that to win races, no matter where, requires some old-fashioned good luck to accompany the fast car phenomenon.
In his first start at Toledo in the spring of '08, he got caught up in a wreck.
In the 2008 season finale at Toledo, Lofton broke the one-lap track record with an average speed of 113.493 mph and took off like there was no tomorrow, leading the first 72 laps. He was consistently the fastest car on track but a tire issue relegated the Westmorland, California driver to 12th in the final running order.
Lofton was again consistently the fastest car on track in this year's spring race at Toledo, leading 93 laps. But an 'out-of-sequence' pit stop late in the race turned about to be the wrong strategy. Lofton made it back to second before time ran out.
"Guess we need to slow it down a little at Toledo," kidded Lofton. "I know this; we have some unfinished business at Toledo. We've always been really fast there. Got caught up in a wreck my first time. We're certainly good enough to win there. We just have to put it all together, and that includes pitting at the right times and staying clean on the track. Really no different than anywhere else."
Certainly, the 'slow it down' strategy won't do either. Not with 19-year rookie Parker Kligerman in the line-up. Kligerman has won a season-high six wins to Lofton's four. However, after running out of gas coming to the white flag lap at Chicagoland last Friday, the Westport, Connecticut driver fell to second in championship point standings while Lofton, who won the race, rocketed into the lead.
So what exactly is Lofton's strategy headed into the race this Friday at Toledo?
"Ever since we announced our new strategy a few races ago, we haven't changed. In the beginning of the year, we were concentrating on the championship and made decisions accordingly - sometimes too conservatively. We're out to win races now, period. We're sticking by that. We just feel that to win the championship at this point, we've got to win races, and that's what we're out to do."
Lofton announced his new 'go for it' strategy just prior to the race at Berlin Raceway in late July. Apparently, it's working. Lofton, since the announcement, has won three of the last four races; and has reclaimed the point lead headed into the final six events of the 2009 season.
"The championship is still paramount in the big picture; that's why we're here. It would be something very special to take with me. It would be my first stock car championship, and I think it would play a crucial role in my career in the future.
"As bad as I want the championship, I want it even more for my guys at Eddie Sharp Racing, who have worked so hard to put me in this position."
Lofton holds a 55-point lead over Kligerman headed to Toledo.
"I love Toledo. It reminds me a lot of the tracks back in California. You can run two-wide. The track definitely fits me, my driving style. We've really hit on a set-up there. It's going to be a good show; I can promise you that. "We've got some great momentum going right now; we just need to keep it going. But it would be a really special deal for me to win there (at Toledo); especially after all the bad luck there."
Practice is scheduled Friday, September 4th from 2:00-3:30 PM followed by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 5:00 PM. The ARCA RE/MAX Series 200 presented by Belle Tire is slated to roll off at 8:30 PM under the lights. All on-track activities will be featured in live streaming video and audio at ARCAracing.com through the ARCA Racing Network.
The University of Toledo Rocket Marching Band will be performing on the frontstretch during pre-race ceremonies, which includes an on-track driver autograph session.
From Toledo, the ARCA RE/MAX Series has a tight turnaround for the 57th annual Southern Illinois 100 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile-dirt Labor Day Monday, September 7th.