Â Lofton Maintains In Michigan, Finishes 18th Despite Flat Tire In Closing Laps Â Justin Lofton started the VFW 200 at the Michigan International Speedway from the 18th position on Saturday, and after numerous caution flags, a rain delay, and a...
Lofton Maintains In Michigan, Finishes 18th Despite Flat Tire In Closing Laps Justin Lofton started the VFW 200 at the Michigan International Speedway from the 18th position on Saturday, and after numerous caution flags, a rain delay, and a final eight lap run to the checkered flag, maintained the position, driving his No. 7 Toyota Tundra to another consistent finish.
"We had a great truck. We were out to lunch at the beginning of the race but the guys worked on it each pitstop and it came in a little more every time. These guys on the No. 7 visitpit.com Tundra work so hard every week," Lofton said.
After taking the green flag, it took only two laps for Lofton to radio crew chief Mark Rette that his truck was running loose. With two caution flags falling within the first dozen laps, the team took advantage, calling Lofton down pit road for a chassis adjustment.
Back under green flag conditions, the 24-year old racer settled in behind the wheel, climbing to the 12th position by lap 25.
10 laps later, the team tackled their second pitstop, making another small adjustment to the No. 7. Within laps, rain began to fall, halting the racing action for nearly an hour. Once the weather cleared, sunshine and heavy humidity blanketed the two-mile track, changing track conditions.
As the race played out past the halfway mark, Lofton noted that his truck was, "a little tight in and a little loose off," Adding, "I like it where it is."
The third and final pitstop of the day fell on lap 77 of the 100 lap race. As the stops cycled through the field under green flag conditions, Lofton was scored in the 13th position.
Two caution flags waved spanning the final 15 laps, including a close call involving Lofton 's No. 7 truck.
After maneuvering his way into the top 10, Lofton made possibly the best save of the day after another truck broke loose to the inside of Lofton. The truck began to spin, clipping Lofton, sending his truck sideways off of turn four. The rear of Lofton's truck kissed the wall but the 2009 ARCA Racing Series champion straightened it out and continued on.
The caution flag waved, setting the field up for the final restart with eight laps remaining. Lofton took the green for the final time from the ninth position.
As Lofton jockeyed for position from the inside lane to the preferred high lane, racing quickly intensified as the field ran three-wide in the closing laps. The close racing pushed Lofton's No. 7 machine into the outside retaining wall, causing a slow leak in the right front tire. After bouncing off of the wall, Lofton held on despite the damage, finishing 18th.
"After the sun came out, the handling kept coming to us and we got racing. We were loose all day in turns one and two , and racing hard with less than 10 to go, we backed it in a little bit - just enough to give it a severe tire rub on the right front. It ate up the tire and we had nothing left," Lofton said.
Following Michigan, Lofton remains 12th in the driver point standings. The next race for Lofton and the No. 7 Red Horse Racing team is July 11th at Iowa Speedway.