Lofton Avoids Fiery Finish After Part Failure, Leaves Indianapolis 29th Entering last Friday's race at O'Reilly Raceway Park, Justin Lofton had another strong truck, but trouble under the hood once again ended his charge towards a top-10 finish.
Lofton Avoids Fiery Finish After Part Failure, Leaves Indianapolis 29th
Entering last Friday's race at O'Reilly Raceway Park, Justin Lofton had another strong truck, but trouble under the hood once again ended his charge towards a top-10 finish. After practicing within the top five, qualifying just outside of the top-10, and while running 11th, Lofton had trouble with less than 50 laps on the board at the Indianapolis short track, forcing the crew to make lengthy repairs behind the wall, resorting the No. 7 truck to a 29th place finish.
"It was another issue under the hood," Lofton said. "It's pretty frustrating when we are doing everything we can putting these trucks together, finding speed, and running well, only to have these mechanical issues."
Lofton entered the AAA Insurance 200 with high hopes after competitively running within the top-10 in the two previous events. A fourth place showing on the speed chart in the final practice boosted his confidence, followed by a 13th place starting position.
Once under green flag conditions, Lofton began his climb toward the top-10, moving from 13th to 11th by the time the first yellow flag waved a dozen laps into the event. Under yellow, Lofton radioed to his crew that the blower in his helmet was not working. With temperatures looming around the 90-degree mark as the sun began to set, Lofton was in for a hot night behind the wheel of the No. 7 Toyota.
Moments later, the trouble continued, as issues brewed under the hood. On lap 35 Lofton radioed to his Mark Rette led crew that the gauges on the dash showed no pressure, and that the smell of fuel overwhelmed the cockpit. He pulled his truck off of the race track and behind pit wall. The crew quickly diagnosed the issue as being connected to the carburetor where the fuel is regulated, made repairs, and sent Lofton back on track. Though disappointed after running the remainder of the event 28 laps down, Lofton learned following the race that he was fortunate to finish the event at all. After opening the hood, the team quickly realized that they narrowly avoided a fire after they observed fuel steaming and billowing due to the part failure.
Lofton ran the remainder of the race without incident after getting back on track. As the laps clicked down, Rette kept his driver focused, reminding the 24-year-old to learn all he could behind the wheel for future reference. Rette read off lap times to Lofton through the second half of the race, as he ran speeds which would have put him solidly within the top four.
"We had a fast truck, but there was nothing we could do after the earlier issue," Lofton said. "It was frustrating finishing that race because I knew the truck was fast - we were being held up in every corner of the track. We'll try to get it figured out for next week."
Added Rette, "We have had everything put together the last few weeks, but we've had mechanical problems out of our hands. If we can get them out of the way, we will get the finishes we deserve."
Lofton will next head to Pocono Raceway, a track he won on in ARCA Racing Series competition last season. He'll enter the event from the 14th position in Camping World Truck Series points.