ESR's Justin Lofton season review

No. 20 Lofton Cattle -- 2008 Review DENVER, N.C. (November 24, 2008) -- Justin Lofton was the late-comer to the ESR organization in 2008. Starting his season in Salem, the Sun Trust Rookie of the Year candidate hit the ground running. Plagued...

No. 20 Lofton Cattle -- 2008 Review

DENVER, N.C. (November 24, 2008) -- Justin Lofton was the late-comer to the ESR organization in 2008. Starting his season in Salem, the Sun Trust Rookie of the Year candidate hit the ground running. Plagued with crazy bad luck, the talented driver from Westmoreland, California has statistics that aren't nearly as hot as Lofton was on the track! Lofton logged five top-10 and three top-5 finishes, with a win a Michigan International Speedway, 16 top-10 and nine top-5 starts, including two SIM Factory Pole Positions. Despite making one fewer start than 14 other drivers, Lofton finished the season 13th in the 2008 Championship Point Standings.

Here's a little 2008 review...

Better late than never...Justin Lofton joined Eddie Sharp Racing after the season opener in Daytona getting him a late start in the point standings. Lofton made his ARCA RE/MAX Series debut in the No. 93 Lofton Cattle Dodge at Salem Speedway and qualified in an impressive eighth position. Lofton dominated over half of the 200-lap event in the top-10. Running in the top-5, Lofton was nudged into the wall, damaging the right front tire. Green flag repairs caused the No. 93 to fall 12 laps behind the leader and take the checkered flag in the 19th position.

Under dreary Iowa skies, the No. 93 Lofton Cattle Dodge took the green flag from the rear of the field and in only 15 laps, Lofton climbed to the 19th position. When the caution came out at lap 27, mechanical failure caused the throttle to hang, planting the No. 93 squarely into the outside wall of turn 1 at Iowa Speedway. Lofton, unhurt from the crash, packed up early and recorded a 27th-place finish.

Lofton fought a poor handling Lofton Cattle Dodge throughout the Kansas Lottery $150 Grand. With a solid qualifying lap, the No. 93 lined up in the tenth position. Wrestling the tight car and going for an exciting spin on the front stretch following contact with another car, Justin Lofton finished the day in a disappointing 12th position.

Change in number...due to ARCA RE/MAX Series rules, the ownership of a number could not be obtained and the number changed at the same time. Therefore, the newly acquired 93 had to remain the 93 at ESR for the first four races. At the season's fifth event, ESR was allowed change the 93 to the 20. At Rockingham Speedway the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge debuted. Oh the craziness!

The temperature wasn't the only thing that was hot at Rockingham Speedway. Lofton solidly landed the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge landed in the third starting position for the Carolina 500. When the green flag dropped, Lofton moved quickly into second and looked to be one of the dominating factors in return to racing at the famous "Rock". High hopes came to a crashing halt when lapped cars spinning on the backstretch collected Lofton and other front-running cars. The Lofton Cattle team worked to keep the Lofton on track, but succumbed to the damage and retired in the 43rd position.

A 13th-place qualifying effort gave the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge a great starting spot at Kentucky Speedway. Unfortunately, Lofton's seat belts came undone on lap 6 and he was unable to regain the laps lost in the pits while fixing the problem. The car was strong and Lofton managed to come home in 23rd place.

The Lofton Cattle team was the highest qualifying ESR car at Toledo Speedway in May, starting third in the Hantz Group 200 by Federated Car Care. Lofton remained in the top-10 for much of the day until late race contact sent him spinning down the front stretch. The team was able to keep the No. 20 on the lead lap and Lofton worked his way back into the top-15, bringing home a 14th place finish.

Justin Lofton and the Lofton Cattle team were looking forward to the Pocono 200. Pocono Raceway is a track at which Eddie Sharp Racing has seen a lot of success. With team owner Eddie Sharp calling the shots for the Lofton Cattle team, the SunTrust Rookie of the Year candidate ripped off an impressive top-5 qualifying lap. Running in the top 10 all day, Lofton was challenging Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. for the lead when he and ESR teammate Scott Speed made contact during a green-white-checkered finish. The contact sent Lofton sliding up the track and ultimately spinning in the grass off of Turn 1. The caution flag was never raised and Lofton, who was able to maneuver the Lofton Cattle Dodge back onto the track, lost 17 positions and finished the day in 19th place.

OUTSIDE POLE and FIRST WIN!!! It was a stellar weekend in the Irish Hills of Michigan for Lofton. Under bright blue skies and with Sharp on top of the pit box, Lofton drove to his first career ARCA RE/MAX Series win in the Race for Wildlife 200 at Michigan International Speedway. Qualifying on the outside pole and starting beside teammate Scott Speed, the Westmorland-native ran up front all day, calmly, and patiently taking the lead in the final laps for the win.

ON A ROLL and ON THE POLE, eh! With new crew chief Wayne Carroll, Lofton ripped off a qualifying lap to grab his career first SIM Factory Pole Position as the ARCA Series crossed into international territory at Cayuga Speedway (Ontario, Canada). After leading the first 28 laps of the rain-delayed event, Lofton relinquished the position and only ten laps later, brought his sputtering No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge to pit road. Despite the team's efforts, Lofton's day was over early due to mechanical issues. He finished in the 27th position.

Hard chargin' at Kentucky...24 POSITIONS! Following his first win at Michigan International Speedway and his first pole at Cayuga Motor Speedway Lofton headed to Kentucky ready to Rock. It was a hot and steamy afternoon and everyone knew the track was slippery. As Lofton came through Turn 2 on his first timed lap, the back end of the Dodge snapped around slid the car sideways and up towards the outside wall. Staying on the throttle, Lofton skillfully kept the car off the wall and restarted his lap. He cautiously completed the second timed lap and drove the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge back to the garage stall so the team could evaluate the issue. The team decided to swap engines and members from all three ESR teams worked quickly between qualifying and the race. The No. 20 Lofton Cattle team was sent to the back to start in a provisional starting position. Lofton persevered all night, gaining a phenomenal 24 spots to finish in the tenth place.

By the trip to Berlin, Michigan Lofton and his No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge had become a familiar site in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. In the proceeding four races, Lofton recorded one win, one pole position, two top 5's, and three top 10's. Lofton sported one of the best cars on the track at Berlin Raceway. Qualifying fourth, Lofton held the lead for 22 laps and finished the Berlin ARCA 200 in the fourth position.

Lofton scored another top-5 in the Toyota 150 at Nashville Superspeedway. Following an early and unscheduled pit stop, the SunTrust Rookie of the Year candidate hammered his way from the back of the pack to an impressive fifth-place finish.

DOUBLE DUTY from right-hand turns to dirt track debut...Lofton traveled from Connecticut to Illinois, pulling double duty, racing in both the NASCAR Camping World Series East and the ARCA RE/MAX Series. Neither race satisfied the competitive driver as rotten luck plagued the weekend's events. The first leg of the journey ended early with engine woes at Lime Rock Park in the No. 2 Greenville-Toyota/Lofton Cattle Toyota in the Mohegan Sun NASCAR 200. Jetting to Springfield, Illinois, Lofton then climbed into his No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge at the Illinois State Fairgrounds for his first taste of dirt track racing. Following a long and frustrating day in the dust, Lofton took the checkered flag in the 24th position.

It was a long, hot and humid Labor Day in DuQuoin, Illinois for Lofton and the No. 20 Lofton Cattle crew. The team worked endlessly from sun-up until the checkered flag dropped for the Southern Illinois 100. Lofton brought the Lofton Cattle Dodge home in the 12th position.

Not-so-sweet Home Chicago... Lofton fell victim to a late-race caution that occurred immediately following his green-flag pit stop in the Chicagoland ARCA 200. Trapping the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge a lap-down to the leaders, Lofton was unable to make up the loss in the final laps, surrendering to an eighth-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a COW! The No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge sported a slightly different look at Salem Speedway. In honor of the Cattle Showdown Charity Cook-Off, the No. 20 was dressed as a Holstein cow, the same cattle that Lofton Cattle feeds. A Cook-Off featuring the Lofton Holstein and the Sheltra Brisket in a taste test was conducted for ARCA RE/MAX Series officials and team members. Votes were cast and a tie declared. All money collected was donated to Focus Motorsports Ministries, the real winner of the afternoon.

Lofton and the Lofton Cattle team unloaded a wicked fast car. Unfortunately the No. 20 was on the receiving end of short-track blunders, leaving the specially designed "cow car" heavily damaged by the checkered flag. Despite it all, it's not too bad when a bad day ends with a 12th-place finish.

Road course racing returns to the ARCA schedule...Despite unloading strong and qualifying fourth for the inaugural ARCA RE/MAX Series event at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Lofton and his team were packed early and heading to the airport. On lap 2 of the Loud Energy Drink 150 the motor of the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Toyota expired. Lofton finished the day a very dissatisfying 36th.

Lofton managed to narrowly skirt through the "Big One" at Talladega Superspeedway. Lofton consistently ran in the top-10 until damage received from contact with the nearly-airborne Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. limited the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Toyota to a 16th-place finish in the ARCA RE/MAX 250.

Pole #2, New Track Record, and Most Laps Led!! Lofton and his Lofton Cattle team had the car to beat in the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series season finale at Toledo Speedway. Qualifying on the pole position and setting a new track record, Lofton led the most laps of the Hantz Group 200. A flat tire when the bead separated ended the hopes of a win in the final race of the season with Lofton taking the checkered flag in the 12th position.

Off-season shenanigans...Lofton returned to his desert racing roots behind the wheel of the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Chevy Trophy Truck in the 2008 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. In Lofton's first ever Baja 1000, an endurance event of 629.74-miles split between a team of two drivers. His teammate was his father, Bob Lofton. The elder Lofton has been competing in desert racing for over 22 years and has claimed victory in his division in three Baja events. Justin was named the 2004 Best in the Desert (BITD) Rookie of the Year and also claimed the 2004 BITD Class 1000 Championship, winning the Parker 400, Vegas 200, and Henderson 300 with teammate Matt Loiodice. The father and son team finished an impressive sixth with a course time of 14:51:08.

What's next for the No. 20 team? Stay tuned!

-credit: esr

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Series ARCA
Drivers Scott Speed , Justin Lofton