Kentucky: Justin Lofton race report

Lofton Comes Home with a Solid Finish After a Difficult Day Buckling up a problem for Lofton in the Drive Smart! Buckle Up Kentucky 150 SPARTA, Ky. (May 10, 2008) -- Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton entered the Drive Smart! Buckle Up...

Lofton Comes Home with a Solid Finish After a Difficult Day
Buckling up a problem for Lofton in the Drive Smart! Buckle Up Kentucky 150

SPARTA, Ky. (May 10, 2008) -- Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton entered the Drive Smart! Buckle Up Kentucky 150 ARCA RE/MAX Series race with high hopes after a disappointing effort at Rockingham. A 13th-place qualifying effort gave the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge a great starting spot. 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.

"Our car was really strong, I feel so bad about the belts," said Lofton after the disappointing finish. "I am speechless. I just can't believe of all things, my belts came undone. We were just making laps and trying to bring the car home in one piece once we knew we couldn't get our laps back."

The sun was bright when practice began on Saturday afternoon. Lofton and Crew Chief Randy Nelson made changes to the No. 20 that helped it gain some needed speed. The car began the day a bit tight and the team was able to work to adjust the handling during the 2-hour practice session.

"I have never been here before so I'm still learning the track," stated Lofton as he climbed into the car for ARCA SIM Factory Pole Qualifying. "I will be happy with a top-15 qualifying today."

Lofton was able to make a lap in 30.987 seconds (174.287 mph) and put the car solidly in the field with a 13th starting position.

"I'm happy with that," said Lofton following qualifying. "I am really looking forward to a great race"

As the sun set and the track lights gleamed brightly, it was perfect weather for night racing in Sparta, Kentucky. The green flag dropped at 8:00 p.m. and the Lofton Cattle No. 20 quickly moved through the field.

"The car feels balanced," radioed Lofton on Lap 3 as he was passing for the 10th position. The first of ten caution flags came out on lap 4. While under caution Justin and Crew Chief Randy Nelson were discussing race strategy. Suddenly, Lofton radioed that his seat belts had just come undone. As the race restarted, Lofton was forced to bring the No. 20 to pit road on lap 6. The team quickly helped him re-buckle but the green flag pit stop was costly and Lofton lost 3 laps.

As the race leaders continued to put additional cars a lap down, the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge was never in the position to receive the Lucky Dog Award to get their lost laps back. The car was strong and Lofton gained valuable respect from veteran drivers as he simply stayed out of trouble and logged laps for the remainder of the race.

"We didn't want to tear up the car tonight," said Lofton as he was debriefing with his team. "We knew it was fast but if we couldn't fight for the win, there was no use in wrecking it. Man, I really hope our luck turns around, this team deserves so much more and it seems like the little things are biting us."

Next Stop: Justin and his Eddie Sharp Racing team head to Toledo Speedway for the Hantz Group 200 presented by Federated Car Care. The green flag drops at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 18, 2008. Tune into Arcaracing.com for live timing and scoring for all ARCA RE/MAX Series on-track sessions at Toledo.

-credit: esr

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Series ARCA
Drivers Justin Lofton