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Lofton holds on at Charlotte for first Truck win

May 19, 2012, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com



Lofton holds on at Charlotte for first Truck win

CONCORD, N.C. -- With Brad Keselowski dogging him to the finish line, and with just enough fuel to make it to the end of the race, Justin Lofton held off Keselowski to win Friday night's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The victory was the first in the Camping World Truck Series for Lofton, who arrived at the finish line .261 seconds ahead of owner/driver Keselowski, who was trying to score his first NCWTS win.

Charlotte

Results
Pos.DriverMake
2. Brad KeselowskiRam
3. Todd Bodine Toyota
4. Jason Leffler Toyota
5. Ron Hornaday Chevrolet

Lofton took over the series lead by one point over Timothy Peters.

* Final Laps | Victory Lane

Todd Bodine ran third, followed by Jason Leffler and Ron Hornaday. After the race Keselowski had a heated exchange with Hornaday (watch), stemming from contact between their trucks on the next-to-last restart with nine laps left.

After a lackluster start to the race, when he quickly dropped from second to seventh in the space of three laps, Lofton began learning.

"I had had terrible restarts all night," Lofton said after the race. "The truck was not bad on the very first start of the race -- I just had that bad a [start] and fell back that far. But the stars aligned, I figured out what I needed to do, and the best thing is, I outsmarted him [Keselowski].

"I think I had some help from Ron Hornaday, when he and Keselowski got in a little battle. Once I got out front [with four laps left], I knew I was OK. There was a short amount of laps left that I knew I could stay out front. I surprised myself, definitely."

Keselowski had just cleared Lofton for the lead entering Turn 1 on Lap 119 when Nelson Piquet Jr. caused caution for the second consecutive time when he pancaked his No. 30 Chevrolet against the Turn 1 wall.

But Keselowski lost the lead on the restart on Lap 125 of 134 when Hornaday, who lined up behind him, ran into the back of his No. 19 Ram. To Keselowski, the contact was unjustified.

"I came on the radio and asked him, 'Hey, man, I'll play it cool; just be nice and smooth, and we'll both have great days," Keselowski said of his communication with Hornaday before the restart. "Instead he decided to be a jackass and just run me over.

"And it cost him what would have been an easy second place, and then it obviously cost me the win, so we both lost out on the deal."

For Hornaday, who scored his first top-five finish with Joe Denette Motorsports, time was running short with just nine laps left.

"They stopped and played jackrabbit," Hornaday said of Lofton and Keselowski, "and somebody got into the back of me, and I just had to go, too. Sorry about that to him, but we're all looking for spots -- and it's pretty cool for Joe Denette Motorsports to get a top-five."

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Justin Lofton scored his first career win in his 55th start; his previous best finish was third (twice).
• Justin Lofton is the fifth different winner in five races in 2012.
• Justin Lofton is the third first-time winner at Charlotte (Kyle Busch and Matt Crafton).
• Justin Lofton is the third first-time winner in 2012: John King (Daytona) and James Buescher (Kansas).
• Justin Lofton led twice for 44 laps, including the final 10 laps.
• Justin Lofton leads the points for the first time in his career.
• Eddie Sharp Racing scored its first career win.
• Justin Lofton won the 2009 ARCA championship with Eddie Sharp.
• Chevrolet scored its fourth win of 2012.
• Chevrolet scored its seventh win at Charlotte, most of all manufacturers.
• Brad Keselowski (second) matched his best career finish set at Gateway in July 2010; it's the fourth second-place finish for Brad Keselowski Racing.
• Todd Bodine (third) posted his best finish of 2012 (second top-five) and fourth top-three finish at Charlotte.
• Jason Leffler (fourth) scored his best Charlotte finish in his second start and best finish in his fifth start of 2012.
• Ron Hornaday (fifth) posted his best finish of 2012; it's his sixth top-five finish in his eighth start at Charlotte.
• Jeb Burton (eighth) posted his first career top-10 finish.
• Ty Dillon (10th) has finished in the top 10 in the past seven races.

Lofton held the lead when caution flew for the eighth time with four laps left for debris in the form of a bumper bar in the racing groove. Keselowski fell back on the restart and didn't have time to catch Lofton before the finish.