Darlington: Justin Lofton race report
Late Incident Ends Top-Five Run, Leaves Lofton 20th At Darlington Justin Lofton entered the Too Tough to Tame 200 at Darlington Raceway with momentum, a strong truck, and all signs pointing toward a possible third straight top-10 finish within ...
Late Incident Ends Top-Five Run, Leaves Lofton 20th At Darlington
Justin Lofton entered the Too Tough to Tame 200 at Darlington Raceway with momentum, a strong truck, and all signs pointing toward a possible third straight top-10 finish within Camping World Truck Series competition.
Late in the race on Saturday night however, contact with another truck while running within the top-five ended the charge, damaging Lofton's No. 7 Toyota Tundra. The team was forced to make repairs in the garage for multiple laps. Lofton returned to the race, and finished 20th after regrouping following the incident.
"I felt bad for the guys because we had such a great run going. They've worked so hard the last few weeks on finding speed and preparing these trucks. We got sideways there and another truck got into me. It's unfortunate, but it was fun racing up front. We held our own in the top-five all night before that happened," Lofton said.
Though Darlington has numerous intimidating monikers, Lofton hit the 1.366-mile track with no fear for his debut run. He ran the 10th fastest time in the first practice session, followed by a fifth place speed in the final run. Lofton found even more speed behind the wheel of the No. 7 Tundra in qualifying after laying down the third quickest lap of time trials.
Once the green flag waved, Lofton promptly moved into the second position. He held his own up front, remaining within the top-four while under racing conditions. After an early round of pit stops under a caution flag less than 50 laps into the event, some teams opted for two tires, dropping Lofton to sixth. With a fast truck and no major handling concerns, crew chief Mark Rette called for four tires, fuel, and a minor air pressure adjustment.
Lofton found a rhythm, racing his way back into the top-five as the race hit the halfway mark. Another caution flag opened the door for the second round of pit stops as the race neared the 80-lap mark. Lofton restarted the race in the eighth position, as some teams again opted for track position by way of two tires. Knowing Darlington's abrasive surface, Rette kept with the four-tire trend, calling for another air pressure adjustment and fuel.
With the green back out, Lofton remained a contender, climbing to fourth by the time another yellow dropped just 10 laps later. Under the caution laps, Rette asked his driver how the truck was handling after the previous pit stop. Lofton replied with a simple answer, stating that the truck was, "Perfect."
The restart dropped with Lofton moving back into his starting position of third.
Laps later however, the racing intensified and on lap 107, contact sent Lofton sideways, and the target of oncoming traffic. His Toyota took a few hits, with damage forcing him to the garage for repairs. He rejoined the competition, finished out the race, and ended the night in the 20th spot.
He remains 12th in the driver point standings entering the next event on Wednesday, August 18th at Bristol Motor Speedway.