Lofton Has Successful Return To ESR, Finishes 15th in Kentucky
Justin Lofton's excitement surrounding his return to Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) was evident through his two-day stint at Kentucky Speedway. Following Thursday's UNOH225, his excitement grew even more. After challenging within the top-10, Lofton and the No. 46 CollegeComplete.com ESR team ended the night with a solid 15th place showing.
"We had a great return run with ESR. I am happy. Dan (Bormann, crew chief) did a great job in his first race. We ran up front, and laid the ground work to build on," Lofton said. "I can't thank Eddie (Sharp, team owner), Dan, and all of the guys on the CollegeComplete.com Toyota enough for all of their hard work. We had a great truck."
Kentucky's race marked Lofton's first with ESR since the ARCA Racing Series season finale in Rockingham in 2009, which left them celebrating the series championship. Despite the amount of time in between their working relationship, it was obvious as early as the first practice session that the chemistry was still there, as the team laid down a 14th place showing in the No. 46 CollegeComplete.com Toyota Tundra on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the team focused on the handling of the machine as Lofton battled the abrasive bumps around the 1.5-mile track. After dialing it in, he hit the track for two laps of qualifying, grabbing the 17th starting spot for the 150-lap race.
Once the green flag fell on Thursday night, Lofton promptly radioed his crew telling them, "We are good guys, we are good." Happy with the handling of his Toyota, the 25-year-old settled in for a fun night of racing.
After playing the consistency card for the first part of the race, Lofton mixed it up following a pit stop on lap 60. With four fresh tires bolted on to his green and white Toyota, Lofton maneuvered his way into the top-10 following a restart. Within 15 laps, he had worked his way into seventh.
As Lofton picked up positions, Bormann plotted his calls in the pits for the final stretch to the finish. On lap 121 of the 150-lap race, Bormann called Lofton down pit road for his scheduled final pit stop. The team jumped into action, changing out the right side tires and adding fuel.
Unfortunately, eight laps later, Lofton made a hard turn off of turn 4 back on to pit road. Spotter David Green made the call, informing the team that the truck appeared to have a blown tire. The team got up on the wall, and changed out the left sides.
Back on track, Lofton thanked his team over the radio for their hard work through the night and despite the drop on the scoring pylon, he sounded just as exicted as he did on lap one of the event.
Two caution flags slowed the race in the final laps, but Lofton avoided any trouble and ended the night in the 15th position in his debut behind the wheel of the No. 46 CollegeComplete.com Toyota.
"I was having a blast out there. It brought back a lot of old memories having Dan and Eddie on the radio again. We work so well together. The most important thing is that people knew we were here tonight. We ran up front and had a great run. We're going to keep building, that's for sure," Lofton said.
Lofton, Bormann, and the entire No. 46 CollegeComplete.com Toyota team will now head to Iowa Speedway for next Saturday's Coca-Cola 200.
Justin Lofton PR