Here Ye, Here Ye, Calling Meeting to Order; ARCA Veteran Justin Lofton Announces New Game Plan to Berlin Raceway Short-Track MARNE MI (7-21-09) - Top-five runs everywhere, or somewhere very near, were always effective recipes in the procurement...
Here Ye, Here Ye, Calling Meeting to Order; ARCA Veteran Justin Lofton Announces New Game Plan to Berlin Raceway Short-Track
MARNE MI (7-21-09) - Top-five runs everywhere, or somewhere very near, were always effective recipes in the procurement of ARCA RE/MAX Series championships. Not anymore; not with rookie sensation Parker Kligerman in the neighborhood. The 18-year-old Penske Development driver's race/win ratio over the last six races is impeccable. And if it keeps up, the likelihood of there being a different champion would be nearly nada.
In numbers, the Westport, Connecticut teenager has won five of the last six races and leads the points headed to Berlin Raceway for this Saturday's Wolverine Power Systems 200 presented by Generac.
Trailing Kligerman by 150 points in second is Justin Lofton, who's decided to change his strategy headed down the homestretch.
"We have been in the points-racing mode, at least up till Kentucky," said Lofton, who drives the no. 6 Lofton Cattle Toyota for Eddie Sharp Racing. "In fact, I'm just going into a meeting right now with Eddie (Sharp/car owner), my crew chief (Mark Rette) and my dad by conference phone. We're gunna talk about our new game plan. I feel like we've done enough points racing. It's time to win. We're past the points-racing mode."
With 11 of 21 races in the books, Lofton has been the point leader after four of those races. However, since Kligerman's win streak, Lofton has gradually fallen behind the current leader.
"Parker's doing an awesome job; there's no getting around that. And Penske's obviously putting a lot of effort into it. I want to be the one who shuts his streak off. I'm not gunna let him get six in a row.
"Everyone has certain times during the season when they struggle. I'd rather be struggling now rather than at the end (of the season)."
Of course, the word "struggling" is a relative term. In fact, most drivers only dream about the kind of season that Lofton's having. Outside of a quirky mechanical issue at Michigan that relegated Lofton to a 30th place finish, Lofton's 09 stat sheet is nothing short of phenomenal with one win (Talladega), four runner-up finishes, two third place finishes, a fourth, an eighth and a 10th place run after the first 11 races.
"Michigan was disappointing. I mean, I don't think there was anything there that could have touched us. If the car stays together, we win hands down. Iowa we really struggled. We took the same set-up that Mark (Rette) took Juan Pablo Montoya to Iowa with. We really think it was the car because no matter which adjustments we threw at it, it just wouldn't respond.
"I'm not at all discouraged; that's not what I'm saying. We have a very strong crew, great equipment; I'm really excited about the rest of the season."
And part of the 'rest of the season' starts this Saturday at Berlin, the smallest track on the ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule.
"I love Berlin. We ran very well there last year, led laps and finished fourth. I know we can do better than that. Our short-track program is really strong. And we're taking my favorite car; it reacts to all the adjustments we throw at it. It's just one of those things; I've very comfortable in this car. Same car we've run on all the short tracks this year. I like this car so much; we're not gunna risk taking it to the dirt tracks. Not sure which car we're taking there (dirt tracks) but it won't be this one.
"Berlin really suits my driving style. It's not really an oval; there are no straights in it. I call it a circle. It's a lot of fun to drive, but it's challenging because it's one giant circle. I like driving off my right rear, and you do a lot of that at Berlin. Lots of throttle control. The place really keeps you on your toes."
More than likely, given the strength in the overall quality on the tour, and a kid from Connecticut (Kligerman) who just won't quit, Lofton's gunna have to be on his toes at Berlin, and everywhere else for that matter.
"We're second in points, and not that far down. If Parker were to have trouble early (in the race) somewhere and we have a good run, it can go the other way. I know, because it happened to me earlier this year. We fell off in one race. There's a lot left to this season. Enough points racing; it's time to win. The points will fall in from there."
Certainly, if Kligerman keeps pace, nothing short of wins will do for Lofton, or anyone else - it could be win or lose from here.
Practice for the Wolverine Power Systems 200 presented by Generac at Berlin is scheduled from 2:30 - 4:00 PM ET Saturday, July 25th with Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell following at 5:00. The Wolverine Power Systems 200 presented by Generac is scheduled to go off at 8:30 Saturday night.
Catch all the Berlin ARCA RE/MAX Series action at ARCAracing.com featuring Live Timing & Scoring of all on-track activities as well as live flag-to-flag streaming audio and video coverage of the race through the ARCA Racing Network.
Tickets for the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Berlin Raceway are available by contacting the Berlin Raceway Ticket Office at 616-677-5000, or through www.berlinraceway.com.