Mechanical Woes End Lofton's Charge In Gateway Last weekend, the No. 7 visitpit.com Red Horse Racing team picked up where they left off in Iowa by contending within the top-10 throughout the weekend at Gateway International Raceway. 24-year-old...
Mechanical Woes End Lofton's Charge In Gateway
Last weekend, the No. 7 visitpit.com Red Horse Racing team picked up where they left off in Iowa by contending within the top-10 throughout the weekend at Gateway International Raceway. 24-year-old rookie Justin Lofton picked up his highest qualifying effort to date in the fourth position, and ran near the front of the field for a large portion of the CampingWorld.com 200 on Saturday before trouble under the hood of his Toyota Tundra ended the effort.
"We got an oil leak with smoke, and we knew it wasn't good," Lofton said. "We had a good run going last week and we were going to have another good run this week. I feel bad for all of the guys. They work so hard. It's unfortunate when it's mechanical failure like this."
Action started on Friday on the 1.25-mile Gateway oval. After running two practice sessions, and after Lofton scored a career-best qualifying effort in fourth, a one-day show turned into two after a power outage at the track on Friday night pushed the race to Saturday. With the heat index soaring over the 100-degree mark, Lofton finally climbed behind the wheel for the start of the 200-miler.
Early into the run, Lofton radioed to crew chief Mark Rette that the truck was battling a tight condition, challenging the way the machine turned through the corners of the racetrack. Additionally, Lofton noted that he was unable to adjust the brake bias.
A caution flag waved on lap 51, allowing Lofton to drive his Toyota down pit road for his first stop of the day. The crew swapped out tires on the No. 7 Tundra, and also handed their driver a tool for him to tighten the adjustment for the brakes. On the restart, Lofton showed in the eighth position.
Lofton's next pitstop fell under another yellow on lap 76. This time, the No. 7 crew added fuel only and a wedge adjustment to their race truck. The stop lined Lofton up in fourth for the restart on lap 78 of the 160-lap event.
As the laps clicked down and the race ran past the halfway mark, Lofton radioed that the tight condition lingered. As he muscled the tight truck around the St. Louis track, he added, "Just to let you guys know, it is really hot in here," as he battled the high temperatures.
On lap 123 however, Lofton radioed to his crew that there was smoke inside the cockpit. Simultaneously, with smoke visibly trailing the No. 7, the crew was aware of a problem. The yellow waved, and on lap 127, Lofton pulled into the garage area with a leak in the oil pan. The team ended the event in the 27th position.
"It's just one of those things. Through the course of the year, you will have one or two failures like that," crew chief Rette said. "We'll go on to next week. We're going to rebuild, keep digging, and go get us a good finish," Lofton added.
Lofton enters the next event at O'Reilly Raceway Park in the 13th spot in the driver point standings.