Lofton sends ESR back to victory lane; Goess comes home eighth at Chicagoland Justin Lofton drove his No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota to victory for the fourth time this season in the Ansell Cut Protection 150 at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday...
Lofton sends ESR back to victory lane; Goess comes home eighth at Chicagoland
Justin Lofton drove his No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota to victory for the fourth time this season in the Ansell Cut Protection 150 at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday night. The victory boosted the second year racer Lofton into the lead in the driver point standings. Fellow ESR racer Craig Goess solidified his position in the top five in the points by securing an eighth place effort on the 1.5-mile Chicagoland track. Teammate Tim George Jr. scored a 21st place finish.
"It was definitely an awesome race. Mark (Rette, crew chief) and all of my guys have done such a great job. The right rear is about gone. I spun the tires on the second to last restart, spun the tires on the last restart, and thankfully the guys were racing hard behind me," Lofton said.
The Friday schedule at Chicagoland was thrown a curve when rain moved into the area, canceling the final practice session. Qualifying was delayed but all cars were able to attempt a run. Lofton scored the third position, Goess sixth and George Jr. 21st.
Once the green flag waved, Lofton crept into the lead by lap 25 and went on to lead the way for a race high 55 laps of the 100-lap race. There were seven caution flags throughout the event, including two in the closing laps, challenging Lofton with a rearview mirror full of his competition for the restarts. The final yellow waved with just a handful of laps remaining, setting up a final restart as Lofton led the field to the white and green flags simultaneously. Despite an effort by Grant Enfinger as they charged toward the checkered flag, Lofton prevailed for his third win in the last four races.
As Lofton looked to defend his prime piece of real estate at the front of the field in the closing laps, his teammate Goess, in the No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota, struggled with the handling of his machine.
"We needed the morning practice that we got rained out of. We got the car out of adjustment on Thursday (during the first practice run) and did some things to try to get to where it was when we unloaded. We were also trying to fix a clearance problem with the front end," explained Goess of his machine.
"The car just wasn't where it needed to be. It was good for six or seven laps after a tire stop. It was a handful to keep it on the racetrack at times."
With less than 20 laps remaining, Goess and crew chief Patrick Donahue pit for a slight adjustment and fresh tires, hoping for a boost in the final run. He held on to notch his ninth top-10 finish of the season and also reclaimed the fifth place in the point standings.
With his win, Lofton also saw a change in his point position as he moved back into the lead, now 55 points over second place Parker Kligerman.
"Eddie, Mark, all of the guys on this team work so hard. We've got a great group over here and we want this championship," Lofton added.
Tim George Jr., in the No. 2 Ruby Tuesday Toyota, maintained his starting position by also finishing in the 21st spot. Chicagoland is a special place to the New York native, as he turned his first laps in a stock car on the 1.5-mile facility one year ago. George Jr. is knocking on the door of the top 10 in the points, as he sits 11th after the schedule's first 15 of the 21 races.
The next race for Team ESR is this coming Friday, September 4th on the short track at Toledo Speedway.