NCWTS: Justin Lofton holds on for first Truck Series victory

May 18, 2012 No Comments

Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, NC— Friday night’s Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was a night that the members of the Eddie Sharp Racing team will never forget. After having both of their trucks with Cale Gale and Justin Lofton qualify in the top-ten, the team looked to be in store for a great night under the lights in Charlotte.

But the night didn’t start off so well for Lofton. Slipping back to the back half of the top-ten after the first lap, Lofton found himself struggling in the middle of the pack. By lap 85 however, Lofton found himself in the race lead.

At one point. Lofton had opened his lead up to nearly three full seconds over the second place truck of Brad Keselowski. As the run went on, Keselowski began to chip away at the 26-year-old Lofton’s lead down to less than half a second with 25 laps to go.

Keselowski was able to grab the lead away from Lofton, who’s tires had started to fade towards the end of the run, with 16 laps to go and looked to have his first Truck Series win well in hand.

However, late race cautions for Nelson Piquet Jr. and debris bunched the field up for a late race dash to the finish.

On the restart with five laps to go, Lofton was lined up next to Keselowski with Jason White and Ron Hornaday Jr. right on his bumper.

With a shove from White, Lofton shot out to the lead heading into turn one. When the white flag flew, Lofton was once again feeling the heat from Keselowski who was doing everything he could to prevent Lofton from picking up his first Truck Series win, while picking up his first in the process.

But it was to no avail as Lofton went on to claim is first career Truck Series victory in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“It’s just amazing to be able to do it with these guys,” said Lofton. “Eddie[Sharp] believe in me, Daniel[Bormann, crew chief] believed in me, taking a chance, quiting a job and taking over as crew chief in a very short period of time. It’s awesome.”

Although this may be the first victory for Eddie Sharp Racing and Lofton in the Truck Series, it’s not the first time the two have shared success together as they won the ARCA championship back in 2009.

However after that success, the two split as their careers appeared to be heading down opposite paths. Sharp would stay in the ARCA Series, while Lofton would jump to NASCAR with numerous teams since the 2010 season.

After the first Texas race last year, Sharp said he received a phone call that lead to this night at Charlotte.

“I had Craig Goess driving for me at the time. The day after, his father called me and said he quit. That was the only money I had coming through my door,” said Sharp. “I sat there for almost a week trying to figure out how I was going to pay these guys, and what am I going to do now.

“I was sitting at my desk Monday morning one week later, and my cell phone was laying right in front of me. And I looked down and it started vibrating. It was Bob Lofton. It was Justin’s dad. I thought this was either going to be be really good, or really bad. I answered the phone and it was Bob and he said, ‘Son, let’s get the band back together.”

The special bond between driver and owner carried the team to their first career victory Friday night at Charlotte.

With the win, Lofton now leads the series standings by one point over Timothy Peters heading into the sixth race of the season at Dover.

Results of the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 

  1. Justin Lofton
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Todd Bodine
  4. Jason Leffler
  5. Ron Hornaday Jr.
  6. Jason White
  7. Joey Coulter
  8. Jeb Burton
  9. Timothy Peters
  10. Ty Dillon
  11. Parker Kligerman
  12. Brendan Gaughan
  13. Dakoda Armstrong
  14. Migeul Paludo
  15. Matt Crafton
  16. John Wes Townley
  17. David Starr
  18. David Reutimann
  19. Cale Gale
  20. Bryan Silas
  21. Caleb Holman
  22. James Buescher
  23. Jake Crum
  24. Max Gresham
  25. Johnny Sauter
  26. Jennifer Jo Cobb
  27. Brennan Newberry
  28. Ryan Sieg
  29. Nelson Piquet Jr.
  30. Paulie Harraka
  31. Chad McCumbee
  32. Chris Fontaine
  33. John King
  34. Dennis Setzer
  35. Ross Chastain
  36. Clay Greenfield
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