Contact from first timer drops Lofton to sixth on road course Justin Lofton was just laps away from tallying his 13th top five finish on Sunday on the road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park but contact on the last lap from a first-time ARCA...
Contact from first timer drops Lofton to sixth on road course
Justin Lofton was just laps away from tallying his 13th top five finish on Sunday on the road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park but contact on the last lap from a first-time ARCA RE/MAX Series competitor sent Lofton's No. 6 Toyota off course and dropped him to sixth at the finish.
Though the top 10, Lofton's 16th after 18 races, was a welcome finish on the challenging 2.25-mile track, it caused the points championship to tighten. Lofton continues to lead the standings but is now tied with Parker Kligerman with just three races remaining.
"I understand that he (Spencer Pumpelly) was here to win and points meant nothing to him but they mean everything to us right now. Every week they tell us in the driver's meeting to race smart and I'm not sure what he was thinking. He didn't give us any room and just drove over us. We were racing for third, and he ran into us like it was for the win," a disappointed Lofton said.
The weekend at New Jersey was daunting from start to finish. The road course itself wasn't the challenge for Lofton, as he entered the South Jersey Building Trades 150 with plenty of road racing experience. What was the challenge early on, was the weather and track condition.
The surrounding area was pelted with heavy rain leading up to the event. With a full schedule of two practice runs and qualifying on tap, it appeared early on that the schedule might be altered due to more inclement weather. But despite a slight mist causing a slick racing surface, qualifying went on as planned. After squaring off against a wet track without rain tires, Lofton impressively claimed the fourth position for the start of the race.
Once the race got underway on Sunday, Lofton wheeled his No. 6 Lofton Cattle Toyota within the third position for the majority of the event. There were only three caution flags throughout the race, with the final yellow dropping with less than 10 laps remaining. The yellow allowed the remaining lead lap cars a final chance to pit. Lofton's crew bolted on four fresh tires and got their driver back on track in the third spot for the restart on lap 62 of the 67-lap race.
Lofton held steady, maintaining his position before an overzealous challenge from Pumpelly on the last lap knocked him off course and into the sixth spot. The finish allowed the points battle to tighten entering the next event in Salem.
"We've got a challenge on our hands with the points now but short tracks are our strong suite and I'm already excited about putting this behind us and backing up our win at Toledo with another one at Salem next week," Lofton added.
Lofton enters the race with five race wins under his belt and a series leading 12 top five and 16 top 10 finishes.
The run at Salem Speedway is set for Saturday, September 19th for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic 200.