Lofton Ends Season In 18th After Rain Shortens Finale
Justin Lofton and the No.6 CollegeComplete.com Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) team ended the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season with a valiant effort on Friday night in the Ford 200 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
After rain canceled qualifying, the team took the green flag in the finale from the ninth position. Just as the weather played a role in the starting spot, it also affected the outcome, with a heavy downpour forcing NASCAR to shorten the event on lap 119 of 134. The condensed race took away from a final run to the front following a final pit stop, leaving Lofton and team 18th.
"I wish we could have finished the race, but it would have taken a while to dry the track for the last 15 laps. I am so proud of my crew chief Dan (Bormann) and all of the guys. They have worked really hard the last few months. From rejoining Eddie to switching to Chevrolets, we've got a lot accomplished," Lofton said.
Just as the teams were preparing to hit the track for the first time on Friday morning for practice, a pop-up rain shower soaked the track, postponing the session. Once underway, rain forced a yellow flag in the closing minutes. Once the yellow was lifted, a final two-lap run at the end of the session boosted Lofton, as he drove his CollegeComplete.com Chevrolet up the speed chart from 21st to ninth.
Re-occuring rain showers fell throughout the afternoon, forcing the cancelation of qualifying. With the field set based on practice speeds, Lofton was given the ninth starting position for the start of the race.
Since the rain washed all of the rubber off of the racing surface, Lofton noted early in the race that the track was slick, with little grip. With a competition caution waving on lap 20, crew chief Dan Bormann called Lofton to the pits for the team's first stop of the day. After swapping out right side tires, Lofton rejoined the race in the fifth position.
After battling both a loose and tight condition in the CollegeComplete.com Chevy as the race went on, Lofton made his final pit stop on lap 96, taking on an air pressure adjustment with the new tires, and fuel. He restarted the race in the 19th spot on lap 101.
The California racer dug in, picking up one more position before the rain came less than 18 laps later. The track condition and amount of time needed to dry the track forced NASCAR to end the race shy of the scheduled distance, leaving the team in 18th as the season came to a close.
Lofton ended the season with three top-10 finishes with a best finish of seventh. He also closed out the year 14th in the driver point standings. Team owner Eddie Sharp closed out the season 16th in the owner point standings.
With the 2011 NCWTS season behind him, Lofton will now focus on an off-road event in two weeks in the desert, followed by his charity golf tournament in January, which benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Imperial Valley. More information, as well as registration and donation information, can be found on the tournament's Facebook page found under "Justin Lofton Charity Golf Tournament."