Lofton Holds His Own, Finishes 13th At Martinsville Justin Lofton overcame the challenges of short track racing to finish just outside of the top-10 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday in the Kroger 200. The 13th place finish earned the ...
Lofton Holds His Own, Finishes 13th At Martinsville
Justin Lofton overcame the challenges of short track racing to finish just outside of the top-10 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday in the Kroger 200. The 13th place finish earned the 24-year-old the highest finishing rookie of the race honor for the sixth time, in addition to giving him his 12th top-15 finish this season.
"Everybody on the No. 7 VisitPIT.com Toyota did a great job all day. Mark (Rette, crew chief) and everyone on the crew put an awesome set-up in the truck. It was typical Martinsville racing, we got into some scuffles. We probably should have came out of here about eighth or ninth, but its short track tracing. It was fun," Lofton said.
Lofton started the 200-lap race from the 11th spot, climbing into the top-10 within 20 laps. Though fighting a slight handling issue with his Toyota, he charged on, climbing up to seventh by the time the third caution flag waved on lap 40.
Lofton and crew chief Rette decided to take advantage of the yellow and make their first pit stop of the day, taking on four tires and a slight adjustment to remedy the rotation issues with their Toyota Tundra. With some teams opting for different pit strategies, Lofton took the restart just shy of the 50-lap mark from the 22nd position. In typical Lofton fashion, the California racer got busy, maneuvering his way into contention. By the time the race hit the halfway mark on lap 100, Lofton had moved into the top five.
Yet another caution flag waved on lap 147, opening the door for Lofton to make his second and final stop of the day. Entering the pits from the 10th position, the crew jumped into action and sent Lofton back on track in the 18th spot with fresh tires.
"These tires only have two laps on them. They will go, so you go," Rette coached his driver for the restart.
Lofton did just that, meticulously maneuvering his way through traffic, picking up positions. Less than 20 laps later, another yellow waved, forcing a red flag for track clean-up. At the time, Lofton showed in the 14th spot.
Once racing resumed, he got back to work, but the tight quarters around the half-mile, paperclip shaped racetrack caught up to him.
With less than 10 laps remaining, the truck in front of Lofton slowed in order to drop down pit road. With no warning of the move, Lofton ran into the rear of the other truck. Despite front end damage and a possible fender rub, Lofton stayed on track.
As the field charged to the finish, another caution waved, extending the race with a green-white-checkered flag finish.
Lofton took the final restart from 14th, picking up one more position during the final two laps.
"I love short track racing and Martinsville is probably the most notorious short track race for beating and banging," he said. "We had a few issues and I would have liked a better finish, but I'm okay with what we got."
Lofton and the rest of the No. 7 team will head to Talladega, Alabama for the Mountain Dew 250 fueled by Fred's on Saturday, October 30th.