Lofton's Battle for the NCWTS Championship Heats Up in Michigan
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) driver Justin Lofton continued his bout for the 2012 championship this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. With a 12th-place finish in Saturday's VFW 200, Lofton was able to close in on the championship points lead to reduce the gap to just 17 points.
Michigan International Speedway's new surface made for an exceptionally fast race with drafting as the main racing component. In fact, the 200-mile event looked more like Daytona than past events at the Brooklyn, Mich. facility. Having participated in Goodyear tire test earlier this summer, Lofton and the No. 6 Millennium VIP Group Private Jet Services Chevrolet knew they would be running wide open all weekend.
In round 12 of the 22-race season, Lofton rolled off 14th in his Chevrolet Silverado. He worked closely with the team to fine-tune the handling of their Chevrolet throughout the 100-lap race. The championship contending team stayed in the hunt most of the day running in the upper third of the field.
With only a few cautions throughout the course of the VFW 200, the race quickly became about fuel mileage. Lofton was racing inside the top 10 with less than 20 laps remaining. Low on fuel, Lofton brought the No. 6 Millennium VIP Group Private Jet Services Chevrolet down pit road for fuel during a round of green-flag pit stops. The stop relegated Lofton to the 20th position, but the driver paced himself to race back through the field and crossed the finish line in the 12th position.
"The Millennium VIP Group Private Jet Services Chevrolet was very stable and we were able to stay racy all day," commented Lofton. "It was crazy out there-trucks were moving all over the place. I think I was four-wide a couple of times. Our Chevrolet just couldn't suck up in the draft like I had hoped, and with a single-groove line it was hard for anyone to use the entire width of the track."
Lofton's crew chief Dan Bormann indicated that he knew that fuel conservation would play a role in the outcome of the race, "We conserved fuel all day knowing that we would need to have enough to finish. We just needed to draft a bit better in order to get to the front."
Entering the race weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Lofton was fourth in the point standings just 18 points out of the lead. Leaving the Irish Hills of Michigan, Lofton is still sitting in fourth place, but gained one point on the leader to be just 17 points out of first place. 10 races remain in the 2012 season.
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