After starting 22nd, Justin Lofton and the No. 6 CollegeComplete.com (http://www.collegecomplete.com) Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) team got their Toyota dialed in and were climbing to the front on Friday night at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, but following a restart on lap 80, numerous trucks checked up and collided, with Lofton falling victim to the tight racing quarters. His No. 6 CollegeComplete.com machine suffered damage to both sides of the nose, with right side door damage also forcing them to pit road. After rejoining the race after repairs, Lofton held on to finish the 200 mile event in the 26th position.
"It's unfortunate because Dan (Bormann, crew chief) and the guys worked really hard to get the truck where we needed it to be. The changing track conditions played with us a bit today, but we finally got it there and were gunning around the top-15. Unfortunately, we had nowhere to go and got bumped from behind," Lofton explained.
With high temperatures in the mid 90s, the early practice sessions on the 1.54-mile Atlanta track challenged Lofton and the ESR team, as Lofton reported early that the track lacked grip. In qualifying, Lofton laid down a lap that gave him the 22nd starting spot for the start of the 130-lap race.
Under the green flag, the 25-year-old Lofton continued his plea for help with the handling of his machine, stating that it continued to lack grip. Under the first caution flag, on lap 21, Lofton drove down pit road for multiple adjustments.
His truck however, continued to be a handful as he battled a loose condition as the shining sun gave way to a dark night sky and cooler temperatures. On lap 60, the yellow flag waved again, allowing Lofton to make his third pit stop of the night. The team opted to make multiple adjustments yet again, giving their driver the 24th starting spot for the restart on lap 65. By the time the next caution flag waved nine laps later, the changes proved to be the right call as Lofton had climbed to 17th, just outside of the elusive top-15.
Unfortunately, his climb was cut short. Following the restart, the tight racing quarters took hold of the competition with numerous trucks suffering damage on lap 80, including the CollegeComplete.com entry wheeled by Lofton.
"Looking back it's nice to see how well we worked together all day. The guys just kept working on it and working on it. Dan made good calls and we got it in the right direction before we got caught up out there," Lofton added.
Lofton now enters the off week in the 17th position in the driver point standings. Team owner Eddie Sharp sits 20th. The ESR team will take advantage of the break in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition next week before returning to the track at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16th. Lofton and Sharp claimed the ARCA Racing Series victory at Chicago together in 2009.
Justin Lofton PR