Lofton Finishes Second at Kansas, Leads Points Entering Finale Justin Lofton finished second on Thursday at the Kansas Speedway, which wrapped up the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Championship Challenge for Eddie Sharp Racing. The finish also left...
Lofton Finishes Second at Kansas, Leads Points Entering Finale
Justin Lofton finished second on Thursday at the Kansas Speedway, which wrapped up the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Championship Challenge for Eddie Sharp Racing. The finish also left 23-year-old Lofton 15 points to the good in the point standings with one race remaining in the ARCA RE/MAX Series season.
Lofton, driving the No. 6 Lofton Cattle Toyota, inherited the pole on Thursday after rain altered the on-track schedule for the day. Practice for the Kansas Lottery 150 took precedence over qualifying, giving Lofton the position.
The team was then given two hours of practice but unfortunately, they were unable to take full advantage after they discovered a miss in the Toyota. After diagnosing the problem, Lofton switched over ignition boxes and the team continued on as planned.
Once the race got underway, it quickly became obvious that the challenges would continue for the Lofton Cattle crew. Caution flags fell early and often, with the first dropping just three laps in. Four yellow flags waved over the field less than halfway into the event. Just as the race clicked off lap 40 and under caution yet again, Lofton had already diagnosed a slight problem with the handling on his machine as he battled a tight condition. It was then that Lofton was able to drop his Toyota down pitroad for four fresh tires and a slight adjustment.
The 100-lap race hit the halfway mark under yellow flag conditions with Lofton running sixth.
For the second half of the race, the field finally pulled off an extended green flag run, which is just what Lofton's Toyota needed. He hammered down, wheeling his machine from sixth into second, taking advantage of the green flag laps. Crew chief Mark Rette chimed in over the radio to his driver to "take care of it," as Lofton laid down times consistently faster than the leader.
His blistering pace quickly wound in the leader and with 11 to go, Lofton drove by and into the top spot.
The No. 6 Toyota quickly pulled away, with well over a 10-car length lead on the second place car.
A caution however, played the spoiler yet again in the closing laps, setting the field up for a green-white-checkered flag finish.
Lofton's car favored the long runs and the short dash to the finish enabled Parker Kligerman to take advantage on the restart.
Lofton refused to settle, and put up a valiant charge on the last lap, falling within car lengths at the finish.
"I went in there, had a really good run going into the corner, but Parker showed me respect in Salem so I wanted to show him the same respect. I drove it into turn 1 wide open, let off the gas for a little bit to get the aero push out of it and stood back on it.
"It's about one of the gutsiest moves you can ever try. It's not something you try every lap. It was the last lap, going for the win. If I would have had that three-car lengths width that I was off of the gas, I think I probably could have got him. Our car just ran better on the long runs but we gave them a run for it at the finish," Lofton said.
Lofton's runner-up finish locked up the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Championship Challenge for car owner Sharp. The Superspeedway Challenge consists of nine events on tracks longer than one-mile in length. Despite one race, Lofton compiled finishes of eighth or better, including wins at Talladega Superspeedway, Pocono Raceway, and Chicagoland Speedway.
With just one race remaining on the season, Lofton is looking to capture one more championship next weekend - the driver's championship. He currently leads the way by 15 points over Kligerman.
What is Lofton's game plan for the finale?
"We're going to Rockingham to win the race. That's what we need to win the championship."