Toledo: Justin Lofton race report

Lofton Salvages Top-15 Finish Despite Late Race Contact at Rain-Soaked Toledo Toledo, Ohio (May 18, 2008) -- Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton & the Lofton Cattle Dodge came into the weekend with high hopes. Lofton started from the second...

Lofton Salvages Top-15 Finish Despite Late Race Contact at Rain-Soaked Toledo

Toledo, Ohio (May 18, 2008) -- Eddie Sharp Racing's Justin Lofton & the Lofton Cattle Dodge came into the weekend with high hopes. Lofton started from the second row in the Hantz Group 200 by Federated Car Care. Lofton remained in the top-10 for much of the day until late race contact sent him spinning down the front stretch. The team was able to keep the No. 20 on the lead lap and Lofton worked his way back into the top-15 bringing home a 14th place finish.

"It's another disappointing day for us," said Lofton. "Our car was really good we were a bit loose but I was simply riding. I'm still a rookie; I'm trying to learn when to race and when I ride. It's so upsetting when week after week we are fast, have great racecars and we just aren't getting the finishes. My team puts so much into this for me every single week and they deserve so much more. Pocono should be a good track for us, Eddie Sharp Racing has awesome equipment and all three teams should be contenders to win. I really just want to show that we are much better of a team than the finishes we are getting."

Justin's qualifying lap put him third on the starting grid in the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge, with a speed of 111.428 mph and a time of 16.154 seconds. Sunday began with cloudy skies and rain was in the forecast. The on-track autograph session wasn't to be interrupted though. The fans didn't seem to mind the periodic raindrops and came out to show their support. Lofton was amazed by the fans and their knowledge of the ARCA RE/MAX Series.

"This is amazing, it's great to be a part of all this," said Lofton as he was looking around at the pack grandstands.

The green flag flew just as it was starting to sprinkle.

"Be smart, take care of the car and we will be there at the end" radioed Randy Nelson, Crew Chief of the No. 20 to Lofton. "10-4," Lofton replied.

As the race began to progress, Lofton radioed "I'm loose under breaking but the car is good. Please tell the #22 thanks and let's ride this thing out"

Lofton was very happy with the teamwork that Ken Butler, III showed and was looking forward to working with him during the race. Together the teammates demonstrated great patience and they worked together nicely. They passed several cars and maintained positions in the top-10, maneuvering though traffic like true veterans.

The caution flag flew on lap 76 and the Lofton Cattle team pitted for four fresh tires, a can of fuel, and an air pressure adjustment to help the car's handling. The No. 20 returned to the field in the 20th position. Unfortunately, the leaders didn't pit so track position was lost. However, the car was good and Nelson was not worried. Everyone was watching the weather and finally the rain began to fall on lap 100. At lap 109 it went from a sprinkle to a full out downpour complete with hail. The race was red flagged for approximately an hour and a half. During the rain delay the three Eddie Sharp Racing teammates discussed their race strategies and kidded around in the pit area.

When the red flag was lifted and the sun was shining again, Lofton and Nelson decided it was time to start racing. The green flag flew and the No. 20 was in 10th place. Justin radioed to the team that the car was still a bit loose but race-able and good.

"I'm having fun and trying to bring in home for you boys" said Lofton.

On Lap 184 there was on-track contact between the No. 16 and the No. 20, sending Lofton spinning down the front stretch. The caution flag flew and as Justin rejoined the field he was shown in the 27th position.

"You have got to be kidding me, Please tell me that just didn't happen," said Lofton as he was coming to pit road for 2 tires.

"We are going to be fine," said Nelson. "You have a better car than these guys and you know what to do, stay calm and go do what you do."

Lofton was on a mission to bounce back into the top-20. The team did not give up and he was able to bring home a 14th place finish.

"The car isn't torn up that bad and we finished, we learned a lot today," said Justin as he was helping to push the car into the trailer post race.

Next Stop: The ARCA RE/MAX Series teams have the next two weekends off from racing and return to competition at Pocono Raceway. The Pocono 200 takes place on Saturday, June 7, 2008. The event will air same day time-delayed on SPEED at 10:00 p.m.

-credit: esr

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Justin Lofton , Ken Butler