Lofton leads ESR to sixth victory this season; Goess, George caught up in short track troubles Justin Lofton drove to the ARCA RE/MAX Series race win on Saturday night at the Salem Speedway. The win rocketed Lofton back into the points lead, 25...
Lofton leads ESR to sixth victory this season; Goess, George caught up in short track troubles
Justin Lofton drove to the ARCA RE/MAX Series race win on Saturday night at the Salem Speedway. The win rocketed Lofton back into the points lead, 25 points over second place Parker Kligerman. Lofton and Kligerman battled intensely over the final 15 laps with Lofton prevailing for his sixth race win of the season behind the wheel of the No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing, Lofton Cattle sponsored Toyota.
"It feels so good to win here at Salem. I really like this track. It is so unique and it's awesome to say I won here. This means so much to all of my guys at Eddie Sharp Racing. They've put in long hours and they're really working hard to give me everything I need with the car to go out there and win and go after this championship," Lofton said.
Lofton started second for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic with ESR teammate Craig Goess following right behind in third in the No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota. The third ESR entry driven by Tim George Jr. qualified 15th.
Lofton quickly took advantage of his starting spot, grabbing the lead shortly after the drop of the green flag. He dominated the first portion of the race, through a caution flag on lap 57.
While Lofton set the pace, Goess maintained his position within the top 10. Lapped traffic however ended his charge after contact left the No. 81 with heavy front-end damage. Unfortunately, teammate George Jr. got tangled in the melee, leaving two of ESR's three entries with damage.
"He (the lapped car) came up towards the wall like he didn't even know I was there. It tore the nose off of the car and that was that," Goess said.
Goess's night was cut short with heavy front-end damage, including a broken radiator. George Jr.'s No. 2 Ruby Tuesday team got his machine back on track but his night also ended laps later after another run-in with lapped traffic on the tight-quartered half-mile short track.
"Short track racing is a lot about being at the right place at the right time. It looked like they (the lapped car and Goess) got hooked together, and I couldn't get slowed down soon enough. We made repairs, and were out running competitive times again. Unfortunately, a lapped car got into the back of me and that was the end of our day," George Jr. said.
George Jr. finished 22nd and Goess 23rd.
Under the caution flag brought out following the initial accident with his ESR teammates, Lofton led the remaining lead lap cars down pitroad for a round of pitstops on lap 62. His Mark Rette-led pit crew took on right side tires only.
Lofton got back on track, maintaining the lead through lap 137.
The second round of stops fell just after another caution on lap 168. This time, Lofton was able to take on four fresh tires for the final stretch to the finish.
He started second for the restart behind then leader Joey Coulter. Coulter however, slid high while trying to fend off the challenges from the dominant Lofton. Lofton drove by on the inside and held the lead to the finish.
The final 15 laps however, were far from easy. Lofton was up on the wheel lap after lap, holding off Kligerman as the two battled not only for the win, but for points towards the intense points championship battle.
Lofton prevailed, picking up 25 points over Kligerman with two races remaining.
In all, Lofton dominated in the No. 6 Lofton Cattle Toyota, setting the pace for 161 of the 200 laps. His blistering pace lapped the field, with Kligerman the only exception.
Team ESR will next hit the track on Thursday, October 1st at Kansas Speedway.