Saturday, May 19, 2012

Justin Lofton victorious at Charlotte to claim first NASCAR win


Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR
Race five of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season is in the books as the drivers stayed home this week, racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway, in their own backyards.

Feeling the roar of the engines as I sat on pit road, I watched as Ty Dillon led the field to the green flag for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. The green-flag racing was stopped early for a caution on Lap 4 when the No. 14 of Brennan Newberry and the No. 10 of Jennifer Jo Cobb made contact on the frontstretch. Newberry’s night was downhill from there, being involved in four separate cautions.

Daytona race winner John King was the first truck sent to the garage following a single car spin in Turn 2. Heavy damage on the truck took him out of the race for the evening and the Daytona race winner will now drop to 13th in the points standings.

Fresh off of his college graduation at Duke University, Paulie Harraka's night was not one to celebrate after an accident at Lap 85. The No. 92 Truck of David Reutimann turned into Harraka who then collected the No. 31 truck of James Buescher.

The restarts proved hazardous to Brad Keselowski’s efforts to win his first race in the series and also as an owner/driver. Keselowski and Ron Hornaday got heated on the race track during the final restart, making contact and costing each other a chance at the win. After the race their tempers continued to flare as they spoke on pit road with words that shall not be repeated.

In the media center Keselowski watched Hornaday's interview on SPEED as he prepared for his questions. “I came over the radio and asked him ‘Hey, man, I’ll play it cool and just be nice and smooth here and we’ll both have great days. Instead, he decided to be a jackass and just ran me over. … It cost me the win. I was just frustrated by that.”

Through the beating and bumping, Keselowski says he has lost respect for Hornaday. "I just told (Hornaday) I take care of him all the time in these races, I respect him and he shows me none at all. So, I’m just going to have to stop respecting him. That’s just the way it’s going to have to be." Keselowski continued, "I hate to do that because he’s a series regular and I’ve respected him now since the beginning of my truck career. Now, I’m fortunate to be where I’m at and he doesn’t show it back, so I feel like I don’t have to either."

Todd Bodine also spoke about the scuffle and blamed the restarts, stating that Lofton was slow on the restarts as well as Keselowski. Bodine also said, "It’s just a racing deal. He’s got to get over it. He’s racing trucks, not Cup cars.”

Grinning from ear to ear as he walked into the media center, Lofton, along with crew chief Daniel Bormann and team owner Eddie Sharp, answered questions on their race and relationship as a team.

Praising his crew chief, Lofton said "He's done an amazing job in a short period of time. We just have a lot of great people here," Lofton continued thanking SPEED Energy who came on board for the race this evening.

Team owner Eddie Sharp, who bought the KHI equipment at the end of last season, praised Lofton and the "people that have believed in me."

"We bought out KHI and there were a lot of people over the winter that thought I was nuts," Sharp said.

Nuts or not, Sharp, Lofton and the No. 6 team are now winners in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Tonight's results:
  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 Dilllon
  11. Parker Kligerman
  12. Brandan Gaughan
  13. Dakoda Armstrong
  14. Miguel Paludo
  15. Matt Crafton
  16. John Wes Townley
  17. David Starrr
  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 Harakka
  31. Chad McCumbee
  32. Chris Fontaine
  33. John King
  34. Dennis Setzer
  35. Ross Chastain
  36. Clay Greenfield
In the points, we have a little shuffling around. With his win, Lofton takes over the lead by a slim one point margin. The top 15 in the points after five races are:

  1. Justin Lofton 
  2. Timothy Peters -1
  3. Ty Dillon -16
  4. James Buescher -18
  5. Parker Kligerman -30
  6. Ron Hornaday Jr. -31
  7. Jason White -42
  8. Nelson Piquet Jr. -45
  9. Todd Bodine -49
  10. Joey Coulter -55
  11. Matt Crafton -56
  12. Miguel Paludo -64
  13. John King -65
  14. Cale Gale -74
  15. David Starr -76

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