Lofton Nabs Monstrous Third Place Finish At Dover When Justin Lofton drove into the Dover International Speedway infield on Thursday, it was the first time the 24-year-old racer had ever seen the one-mile concrete track, let alone competed on it.
Lofton Nabs Monstrous Third Place Finish At Dover
When Justin Lofton drove into the Dover International Speedway infield on Thursday, it was the first time the 24-year-old racer had ever seen the one-mile concrete track, let alone competed on it. His performance throughout the Camping World Truck Series' two-day stretch at the infamous "Monster Mile" however, equaled that of a veteran as the Red Horse Racing rookie drove to a career-best third place finish in Friday's Dover 200.
"It was an exciting run for sure, for never being here, never even racing a track like this. I've never been to Winchester or any of the short tracks that would simulate this," Lofton said. "We unloaded off the truck really good. It was really cool to run good. It was probably one of the best trucks that I've driven so far this year. I just drove it for all I could this race and I'm really happy for everyone on the No. 7 visitpit.com Toyota team and everyone at Red Horse Racing."
From the start of the first practice on Thursday, Lofton knew he had a good truck. The team ran top-10 speeds throughout, landing seventh on the speed chart at the conclusion of the session. Following qualifying on Friday morning, the team found themselves 19th for the start of the 200-mile race.
Knowing that the track is often a challenge for unsuspecting rookies, crew chief Mark Rette coached his driver at the start of the race to practice, "Patience, patience, patience. Show the track some respect, we'll adjust on it. Have some fun."
Two early caution flags waved over the field within the first 20 laps. By that time, Lofton had begun his climb through the field. Under yellow on lap 23, he radioed to Rette that the truck was just a bit tight, adding, "It's pretty good. I'm liking it."
For the restart on lap 24, Lofton took the green flag from the seventh position.
With a fast and competitive race truck, it was evident that not many changes were needed on the No. 7 Tundra. On lap 53, the team made their first stop of the day, giving Lofton four fresh tires, a minor adjustment, and fuel.
The No. 7 over the wall crew did a stellar job throughout the race, keeping Lofton in contention following every stop. During their second stop under caution on lap 87, the crew worked feverishly, changing four tires in just 14.2 seconds, allowing Lofton to restart from the sixth spot.
The third and final stop of the day fell on lap 124. Rette called for a trackbar adjustment, four tires, and fuel. At that point in the race, he informed Lofton that they were able to make it to the finish without another stop.
Five more cautions flags waved in the closing laps, including a green-white-checkered finish after a few of the front-running competitors ran out of fuel, extending the race. By that time, Lofton had climbed solidly within the top-five. As the field took the restart for the final three-lap run, Lofton took the green from the third position.
Despite running out of fuel himself on the last lap, he valiantly held the spot, nabbing his career-best finish. The run left him with his first top-five effort after just six races within Camping World Truck Series competition.
"I knew when we unloaded the truck was good. I was a little worried. I figured we'd end up about fifth to seventh, but then these guys started running out of gas. We did a great job of getting the gas into our truck. The guys did an excellent job on pitroad."
"This is big for us, especially going into Charlotte and going into this stretch. We really needed it. I've got the hardest working group of guys out there and to reward them with this was pretty cool."
The finish catapulted Lofton from 16th to 12th in the driver point standings.
Lofton, Rette, and the rest of the No. 7 RHR team will carry their momentum into Charlotte Motor Speedway for Friday's North Carolina Education Lottery 200.