Texas: Justin Lofton race report
Lofton's Top-10 Charge Ends After Contact In Texas Justin Lofton maneuvered his way from 16th to sixth less than 100 laps into the Winstar World Casino 400K at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, but contact from behind sent him hard into the outside ...
Lofton's Top-10 Charge Ends After Contact In Texas
Justin Lofton maneuvered his way from 16th to sixth less than 100 laps into the Winstar World Casino 400K at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, but contact from behind sent him hard into the outside retaining wall, ending his charge. The No. 7 visitpit.com Toyota Tundra suffered heavy damage, leaving Lofton 23rd at the finish.
"Everything was jumbled up from the previous restart. It's unfortunate because we had such a good truck. Mark (Rette, crew chief) and all of the guys on this visitpit.com Toyota Tundra worked hard to find speed and get the setup right for me. We were moving up and on our way to another top-10," Lofton said.
With high temperatures and hopes prior to the event, Lofton plotted out his race in the 90-degree Texas heat. Once the green flag waved, the 24-year-old jumped from 16th to 13th on the first of 167 laps. By lap 15, he radioed to the crew that his ride was "pretty good and just a tick free on exit."
The first caution flag of the race waved on lap 20, allowing Lofton to hit pit road for four fresh tires. After stops, Lofton took the green flag from the 14th position.
Lofton ran the next 30 laps silent on the radio, with all of his focus on passing trucks. On lap 52 he cracked the top-10, informing the crew "the truck is turning good. It is a little tight in traffic, but I am figuring it out."
The long run allowed Lofton to gain more ground, moving into sixth by the time the next round of pitstops began. Lofton made his way down pitroad under green for his second stop on lap 73. Within laps, the caution flag waved.
The field took the restart on lap 81, with many trucks spaced apart and out of line. The chaos quickly shook out but the intense racing continued. Lofton took the restart from ninth, but quickly finessed his way back into the sixth spot.
On lap 85 however, another competitor crowded Lofton as he drove in the high lane. In order to avoid the spinning truck, Lofton dropped low, narrowly missing the melee. Oncoming traffic behind Lofton failed to check up and despite his attempts to miss the wreck, Lofton got turned, slamming the wall against the driver's side. He climbed from his battered machine unhurt.
"Coming on the restart, everything was jumbled up at the beginning. I was up on the high groove in (the) draft going down the backstretch, pulling a little bit faster. It's just real unfortunate for everyone on the No. 7 visitpit.com Toyota Tundra," Lofton explained.
"We were a victim of circumstance. There was really good racing going on out there. We had a great truck. We were making it better all night. It's real unfortunate that it happened. Look for us in Michigan. We've got this figured out and we'll be up front."
Lofton remains 12th in the driver point standings.
Next Saturday Lofton and the No. 7 team will hit the two-mile Michigan International Speedway for the VFW 200.