Lofton Nabs Best Finish To Date In Kansas After starting from the 14th position, Red Horse Racing rookie Justin Lofton pulled from past success on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway and raced his way as high as ninth in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 on...
Lofton Nabs Best Finish To Date In Kansas
After starting from the 14th position, Red Horse Racing rookie Justin Lofton pulled from past success on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway and raced his way as high as ninth in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 on Sunday. A rain delay with just over 60 laps to go however, altered the team's setup, but not enough to hinder Lofton from a solid 13th place finish, his highest to date within Camping World Truck Series competition.
"Our race was good. At first we were hoping for sunlight, and then we got the sun to come out, and we were wishing it hadn't rained. When the sun came out, we made a couple of adjustments to try to get some speed out of the truck, and then we went backwards - we made it looser," Lofton said.
With racing set for Sunday in Kansas, the extra days leading up to the event allowed Lofton to set some time aside to visit soldiers at Fort Riley. Located roughly two hours from the speedway, Lofton spent his Thursday afternoon at the home of the Big Red One, signing autographs for the soldiers (some who will be deploying in November) and partaking in various activities. On Sunday, a dozen soldiers joined Lofton and his Red Horse Racing team, giving the crew added support for the event.
Adding to Lofton's confidence at Kansas was his racing history. Last October the California native scored a second place effort in the ARCA race, shortening the learning curve, and giving Lofton and crew chief Mark Rette time to focus on the setup of their No. 7 visitpit.com Toyota Tundra. The efforts left Lofton with a stout machine and a 14th place starting position for the race.
Once the green flag dropped, Lofton quickly clicked off positions and following the first caution flag of the day, he had climbed his way into the top-10. Multiple caution flags waved in the early portion of the event, with Lofton radioing crew chief Rette that the handling of the truck was "a little tight in, and free in the center."
With less than 30 laps on the board and while under caution, Lofton pulled his Toyota down pit road to the attention of his crew for a minor adjustment and four fresh tires. The crew clicked off a quick stop, lining Lofton up in 15th for the restart on lap 31.
It didn't take long however for yet another caution flag to wave and this time, Lofton was too close for comfort after a multi-truck wreck broke out on the frontstretch off of turn 4. With trucks scattering across the racing surface, Lofton feared damage to the left front of his Tundra as he tried to evade the melee. After a quick look-over by the crew, Lofton got the all clear and continued on.
With a few quick cautions out of the way, the field finally settled in for an extended green flag run. By lap 75, shot-caller Rette radioed to his driver that he was turning laps faster than the trucks in front of him and to keep digging.
A little over 20 laps later, Lofton dropped down pitroad for another stop, taking on fuel and a minor adjustment.
Unfortunately, a heavy dark cloud moved in on lap 113 dropping heavy rain and hail, halting the race for over an hour and a half.
Once the weather moved out, Lofton made his third and final stop for another adjustment prior to the lap 119 restart. Back under green flag conditions,the savvy racerquickly noticed a change in the racing surface after the rain cleaned the track, stating that his No. 7 Toyota was now battling a loose condition.
The race stayed green through the finish with Lofton muscling his machine to a solid 13th place effort.
Despite narrowly missing the top-10, Lofton was pleased with the run, which boosted him three positions in the point standings, from 19th to 16th.
"I'm proud of the guys on the No. 7 Toyota Tundra, they did a great job all weekend. We had three solid stops, and we have a truck that's in one piece. It's a big improvement for us in our season, getting some momentum going. We'll go on to Dover and we'll let 'er rip."
The Camping World Truck Series is off this week with the schedule set to resume at Dover International Speedway on May 14th.