Lofton Wins Pennsylvania ARCA 200 at Pocono; Regains Point Lead LONG POND PA (8-1-09) - Justin Lofton, in the Lofton Cattle Toyota, held off a hard-charging Matt Merrell during a green-white-checker finish to win Saturday's Pennsylvania ARCA 200...
Lofton Wins Pennsylvania ARCA 200 at Pocono; Regains Point Lead
LONG POND PA (8-1-09) - Justin Lofton, in the Lofton Cattle Toyota, held off a hard-charging Matt Merrell during a green-white-checker finish to win Saturday's Pennsylvania ARCA 200 at Pocono Raceway.
Lofton crossed the final stripe three lengths in front of Merrell to earn his second consecutive ARCA RE/MAX Series victory and fourth of his career.
"Honestly when the 77 (Parker Kligerman) ended up in the wall I was kind of relieved because I knew that he was our biggest threat at the finish," said Lofton. "Not that I wish bad about anyone. Parker and I had a great battle going at the beginning of the race and we had a really good battle going here in the June race too, so it would have been great if we could have battled side-by-side for the race finish. It's unfortunate for him but it really helped us in the point standings. It's amazing how fast the points can take a turn."
Kligerman came into Pocono Raceway with a 100 point lead on Lofton, but left five points behind new leader Lofton.
Kligerman, with less than four laps to go, had just passed Steve Arpin for second position and was gaining on Lofton when Arpin made contact with Kligerman coming off turn three. Kligerman spun and made contact with the wall, bringing out the final caution period of the race that set the stage for the green-white-checker finish.
Merrell finished second for the second consecutive race.
"This was actually our last scheduled race of the year in the ARCA RE/MAX Series," said Merrell. "We are out of funding. I love coming to Pocono Raceway. The track has some interesting turns and as a racer I find it really challenging."
Craig Goess, in the Greenville Toyota of North Carolina Toyota, finished a career-best third.
"I could see the contact between the 25 and the 77 and I think the consensus was that it was bound to happen," said Goess. "It was just a matter of when and where. I was pretty busy when they made contact trying to determine whether to go high or low. It turned out okay for us in the end, which was good."
Arpin, in his first race with Venturini Motorsports, fell to fourth in the final running order after leading nine laps.
"It was an awesome first weekend with Venturini Motorsports," said Arpin. "We had an awesome car and it was a pleasure to drive. It's a bad deal that we got together with Parker there at the end. He races all of us clean each and every week and I feel horrible for getting into him; we just got a little tight and got his left rear. He had a shot at winning that race. All of us here at Venturini Motorsports are excited of the new partnership and we are going to win some races this year."
Frank Kimmel finished fifth in the Ansell-Menards Ford.
"A top-five is a good, solid day for this Ansell- Menards team," said Kimmel. "Pit strategy helped us there in the beginning and if we would have had a longer green flag run at the time, we probably would have led some laps. Overall, the car was pretty good but I could barely run through the tunnel turn; the car was pushing so bad. But still it was a great day for the team and for all the Ansell fans and employees in attendance."
Lofton led 65 of 80 laps overall and had a comfortable lead over Arpin and Kligerman with less than 10 laps remaining when the caution flag waved for Barry Fitzgerald, who stalled in turn one. That bunched up the field for the restart with four laps to go that led to the incident between Arpin and Kligerman.
Kligerman, who led seven laps, battled Lofton for the lead for much of the early going before first-round pit stops shuffled the running order. Kligerman also had to make an unscheduled pit stop to remove the catch-can mistakenly left in the car during a routine stop. Regardless, Kligerman brought the crowd to its feet on several occasions as he raced his way back into the mix from the tail-end of the lead-lap line.
Tom Hessert charged from the 28th starting position to finish sixth in the Cherry Hill Classis Cars Ford. Robb Brent battled back from one lap down to finish seventh in the Orchard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Dodge. Justin Marks, in a second Venturini Motorsports Toyota, finished eighth. Pennsylvania favorites Bobby Gerhart and Kyle Martel were ninth and 10th respectively.
Tony Palumbo was transported to a local hospital following an on-track incident in turn one on lap nine. Palumbo, of Frankfurt, Illinois, was able to exit his No. 70 NOTW.com Ford under his own power following the incident. After being examined at the infield care center, Palumbo was transported for further evaluation.
The ARCA RE/MAX Series travels next to the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile-dirt in Springfield, Illinois for the annual Allen Crowe 100 Sunday afternoon, August 23rd.