Lofton Challenges, Finishes Fifth In Pocono Justin Lofton tallied a strong fifth place finish in the Camping World Truck Series event on Saturday during the tour's inaugural run at Pocono Raceway. Lofton notched the finish after starting seventh...
Lofton Challenges, Finishes Fifth In Pocono
Justin Lofton tallied a strong fifth place finish in the Camping World Truck Series event on Saturday during the tour's inaugural run at Pocono Raceway. Lofton notched the finish after starting seventh and valiantly battling door-to-door with Sprint Cup Series regulars throughout the Pocono Mountains 125.
"I just had a blast. I've been here four times in the ARCA car and honestly racing the truck here is a whole lot more fun. I wish we would have done about 50 more laps and had another pit stop in there to play some strategy out," Lofton said.
"I had an absolute great time out there. It was an awesome day and I am really proud of all of the guys over at Red Horse Racing for putting this truck together and that gremlin not getting us that's been touching us the last three weeks."
Lofton entered the race at Pocono with a string of strong runs under his belt, but lacking the finishes to prove it after mechanical woes bit the No. 7 Toyota in each of the last three outings. The team was confident that their luck would turn around in Pocono, since Lofton and crew chief Mark Rette scored a runner-up finish and a race win together on the 2.5-mile triangular shaped race track last season within ARCA competition. With morale high and the truck tuned in with extra care, Lofton hit the track for two practice runs on Friday. He showed consistently high on the speed chart, clocking in at fifth quick in the final run.
Qualifying on Saturday played out differently at Pocono, with multiple trucks hitting the track at the same time. Based on practice speeds, Lofton, who was among the quickest, hit the track later in the running. He laid down a fast lap giving him the seventh starting spot for the race.
Once strapped in for the 50-lap event, the team worried about their radio communication after realizing they were unable to hear Lofton. Under the pre-race pace laps, Lofton took the time to re-adjust the antennas, and switch stations, fixing the problem.
An early caution flag slowed the race at the start, but once the racing finally got underway, Lofton consistently held his position within the top-10. He noted a tight and loose condition, depending on which part of the track the No. 7 Toyota turned in. But by the time the race hit the halfway mark on lap 25, he relayed to his crew that the handling had balanced out and that the truck was running well.
With a spot-on set-up, Lofton dropped his Toyota down pit road for the one and only pitstop of the day under a caution on lap 28. The team swapped out four tires, added fuel, and sent Lofton back on track. A slight hang-up under the stop however, dropped him out of the top-10 for the first time, lining him up in the 12th spot for the restart on lap 30. 10 laps later, Lofton had finessed his way back into the top-10. Four caution flags through the remainder of the race caused high intensity, and Lofton added to it by mixing things up with the race leaders. At times, the field fanned out racing three and four wide. Lofton used track position and his past experience on the Tricky Triangle to pick up spots with the help of spotter Jeremy Brickhouse, whose usual gig is spotting for veteran racer Mark Martin in the Cup Series.
The additional caution flags in the closing laps forced two green-white-checkered restarts. Lofton took the final restart on lap 53 from the second position, on the inside of race leader Elliott Sadler. At the drop of the flag, the draft charged forward, jockeying him back in the pack as they gunned for the white flag. Lofton dug in, reclaimed two positions, and nabbed his second top-five run of the season at the drop of the checkered flag.
"Towards the end, I had Elliott Sadler in front of me, Kasey Kahne behind me. I had all of these really good drivers I was racing - not just racing, but passing. It was a really cool feeling. I had a great time out there," Lofton said.
The finish moved Lofton from 14th to 12th in the driver point standings. He'll hit the track next at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday, August 7th.