Pocono: Justin Lofton race report

Lofton Focusing on Strong Race, Not on Dramatic Finish at Pocono Long Pond, Pa. (June 10, 2008) - Justin Lofton and the Lofton Cattle teamwere looking forward to the Pocono 200. Pocono Raceway is a track at which Eddie Sharp Racing has seen a...

Lofton Focusing on Strong Race, Not on Dramatic Finish at Pocono

Long Pond, Pa. (June 10, 2008) - Justin Lofton and the Lofton Cattle teamwere 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, Lofton showed his skills with a solid practice session. The SunTrust Rookie of the Year candidate ripped off an impressive top 5 qualifying lap in the heat of the Friday afternoon. Running in the top 10 all day in the Pocono 200, 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.

[IMAGE] "I'm full of emotions right now. I'm upset because we had a car to win, but I am so excited because we finally ran up front all day," said Lofton. "It was a good day overall, we showed everyone that we can contend for the win. The contact with Scott was unfortunate but it is part of racing. We were both trying to go for the win. I learned a lot today and I can not wait to get to Michigan next week. Man, I really thought we could have got Ricky, I was working on him lap after lap. I didn't want to wreck him so I was trying to set him up, I guess it just was not meant to be."

Justin's qualifying lap of 54.397 seconds (165.450 mph) gave him a fantastic fifth place starting spot. The Lofton Cattle team along with team owner Eddie Sharp, who came out of retirement for the weekend to act also as Crew Chief for the No. 20 team, made a lot of changes during practice to get the handling of the car adjusted to Lofton's liking.

With the smoldering sun beating down, the green flag flew on Saturday at 1:00pm EST. Lofton held his position and managed to take good care of his car. The Lofton Cattle Dodge was extremely fast and remained at the front of the field.

When the caution flag flew on lap 29, the No. 20 pitted for four fresh Hoosier tires and two cans of fuel. Lofton was very happy with the handling of the car and crew chief Eddie Sharp decided not to make any adjustments. Lofton regained the field in tenth position and quickly navigated his way through the field. By lap 44, Lofton was up to the third position and gaining on the leaders.

"It's a bit tight in and a tick loose off," radioed Lofton on lap 49 as the caution flag flew again.

The team decided to pit for the final time for four tires, a small air pressure adjustment and two cans of fuel. Lofton had problems leaving the pit stall, causing him to lose several spots. He rejoined the field in the tenth position, yet again.

When the race restarted, Lofton was on a mission. By lap 65 the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge was already up to third place and still charging.

"I am better than the No. 99 off the corners, if I could get a good run I could get him," radioed Lofton.

Lofton was racing Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. for the lead on lap 77 when the caution flag flew for the final time. The ARCA RE/MAX Series Pocono 200 was sent into overtime and a green-white-checkered finish was the answer.

The green flag flew and into Turn 1 Lofton went; he dove to the inside of the No. 99, trying to get a run to pass him off the corner. Teammate Scott Speed also took the corner to drive to the inside of Lofton. Three-wide in the turn, contact was made with the No. 2 that sent Lofton sliding up the track and spinning into the grass on the apron of the track. Lofton regained control of the Lofton Cattle Dodge and rejoined the field. Despite the spinning car, the race remained under the green flag. Lofton finished the race in 19th position.

"My luck has to turn around sometime soon, I mean running for the win and end up 19th," said Lofton. "I'm working hard to do my part as the driver and I know my team is working extremely hard to give me good race cars. At least at the end of the day, we were up there and I got my name out there."

Yes he did. Expect to see a lot more of Justin Lofton and the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge at the front of the field!

Next Stop: Scott Speed and the Red Bull team travel to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan's Irish Hills for the Racing for Wildlife 200 on Friday, June 13th. The Racing for Wildlife 200 will be broadcast LIVE on SPEED beginning at 5:00 p.m. Arcaracing.com will feature live timing and scoring beginning at 5:15 p.m. on Friday. All times listed are EASTERN.

-credit: esr

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Scott Speed , Justin Lofton