Lofton, No. 7 Team Overcome Challenges at Charlotte, Finish 15th After starting the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 from the 22nd position, Red Horse Racing rookie Justin Lofton was moving his way through the field before a cut tire sent...
Lofton, No. 7 Team Overcome Challenges at Charlotte, Finish 15th
After starting the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 from the 22nd position, Red Horse Racing rookie Justin Lofton was moving his way through the field before a cut tire sent him down pit road early in the event. The stop dropped him down a lap. Lofton and his No. 7 visitpit.com team however, didn't give up, reclaiming the lost lap and driving on to a solid top 15 finish on the challenging Charlotte-area track.
"On the first caution, I think I ran over something. As we were going green I had to pull down pit road and change a tire. We got back out there but obviously fell a lap down and we just kept fighting," Lofton said.
"We got our lap back and were still quite a ways back in there and still adjusting on the truck. Under the next stop, we made a really good adjustment in the pits. I went back out there and it took about 10 laps for us to get going. After that we were a solid top-five, top-six truck. Unfortunately, there at the end we didn't get the run that we really needed to get up and get around the guys and get a little better finish. For what we unloaded and what we qualified I'm really happy with everyone on the team. "
The day was a long one for the Truck Series teams, with the activities of two practice sessions, qualifying, and the 200-mile race all scheduled for one day. The garage opened at 7:30 AM and unfortunately, the start of the race was pushed back three hours due to a rain delay. By the time the field took the green flag, the crews had already put in well over 15 hours at the racetrack.
Once Lofton finally took the green flag, he impressively picked up four positions within the first seven laps. Under caution on lap 12 however, Lofton ran over debris, cutting his left rear tire down, forcing him to pit as the field took the restart. The stop cost Lofton a lap, dropping him to 30th once he was back on track.
By the time the next yellow waved on lap 26, Lofton was scored back on the lead lap as he radioed to crew chief Mark Rette, "The truck is a little free in. I'm just being patient, not doing anything stupid."
The yellow opened the door for Lofton to make another pitstop for fresh tires and an adjustment. From then on, Lofton continued his climb through the field. As the race played out, he had hoped for a longer run, which better suited the handling on his Tundra, but five more caution flags waved, slowing the pace.
"We definitely needed it to be green. The No. 7 visitpit.com Toyota Tundra was a rocket ship 25 laps into a run and that's really where we needed to be. That's what you're going to get here in Charlotte. It's tight racing and it's fast and it's a lot of fun. This place is nothing like I've raced before on a big mile-and-a-half so I'm really looking forward to going to Texas, going to a track very similar to this. I'm going to go out there and keep improving our results every weekend."
The finish moved Lofton into the lead in the Raybestos Rookie of The Year point standings. He now leads the way by two markers over Austin Dillon. He remains 12th in the overall driver standings.
Lofton will next head to Texas Motor Speedway for the WinStar World Casino 400 on June 4th.