Lofton's Impressive Climb Ends Early In Texas The main ingredients for success in racing include a talented driver, a fast car, and luck. The No. 71 WeekendWarriorsTV.com Toyota team has all three, but unfortunately, at Texas Motor Speedway on...
Lofton's Impressive Climb Ends Early In Texas
The main ingredients for success in racing include a talented driver, a fast car, and luck. The No. 71 WeekendWarriorsTV.com Toyota team has all three, but unfortunately, at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday, the luck ran out.
After qualifying for the Nationwide Series race on speed, waiting out a two-day rain delay, and driving through the field from 31st to 16th, Justin Lofton, full-time driver for Red Horse Racing in the Camping World Truck Series, got caught up in a wreck while racing Trevor Bayne for position on lap 65. The contact sent Lofton's No. 71 WeekendWarriorsTV.com Camry hard into the inside retaining wall. The car suffered heavy damage, ending Lofton's drive. He climbed from the car unhurt, but was left with a disappointing finish of 37th.
"We had an awesome car. The No. 71 WeekendWarriorsTV.com Toyota Camry was on a rail. We started in the back and were working our way up," Lofton said.
"We were racing hard coming off of the corner. I was a little tight. Trevor (Bayne) was probably a little tight, too. He bounced off of the wall, caught my right front, which put me in the wall. It ruined our day. Hopefully we'll be back for Charlotte and get the car up front in the top five where it is supposed to be."
The weekend started off on the right track for Lofton, crew chief Mark Rette, and the entire No. 71 WeekendWarriorsTV.com Toyota team, who were making their first start of the season in the Nationwide Series. The Texas event however, was the second career effort within Nationwide competition for Lofton, who ran the Michigan event last August.
The team ran their first laps on Thursday on the 1.5-mile track, with Lofton breaking in a brand new car which had not yet turned any laps on a racetrack prior to the weekend. With a few tweaks on the machine between the two runs, Lofton next climbed behind the wheel for final practice on Friday. The session proved fruitful for the team, as they rocketed up the speed chart to sixth overall.
With no points to fall back on in order to make the event, Lofton had to make the race on speed during qualifying. After his two-lap effort, he secured the 31st qualifying position, ensuring a starting spot for the O'Reilly 300 field.
Rain however hampered NASCAR's schedule, knocking both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races back until Monday. With Sprint Cup set for Monday morning, the Nationwide teams prepared for an afternoon run.
Finally strapped in, Lofton took the green flag just after 5 PM eastern time. With a fast car and a broken in track after the Sprint Cup race ran its entire 500-mile course, 24-year-old Lofton focused on his climb towards the front. It didn't take long for him to succeed, and by the time the competition caution waved on lap 27, he had already picked up 11 spots, into 20th.
After a round of pitstops and the restart, Lofton was back to work, steadily clicking off positions. With just over 60 laps on the board, he was riding in the 16th spot, eyeing the top 15. After moving to the inside of Bayne as he began to make the pass for position, Bayne slid down into Lofton, sending the No. 71 Toyota down track and into the wall.
"We were coming through the field. We definitely had a car to finish top-five in. I'm just really bummed for all the guys," Lofton added.
Lofton will next hit the track in Kansas on May 2nd as he returns to his usual schedule of Camping World Truck Series competition.