Justin Lofton held off a busy pack of ARCA RE/MAX Series warriors to score the biggest win of his career Friday afternoon in the ARCA RE/MAX 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Lofton, in Eddie Sharp’s Lofton Cattle Toyota, held off 59-year-old Bill Baird to earn his second series victory in his 24th career start.
“This win is four races too late,” said Lofton. “We needed this one at Daytona. We had an awesome car and an awesome race. I was just kind of picturing what Justin Allgaier did to Joey last year in this race during those last couple of laps and hoping that didn’t happen to me. The only way to go big picture racing is to gain maximum points and the way to do that is to win races so that’s what we did with the Lofton Cattle Toyota today.”
Outside of one multi-car pile-up in turn four resulting from Mark Thompson’s blown engine, the race featured long green flag runs filled with two- and three-wide close racing all the way through.
“It was a relatively nice race compared to Daytona,” added Lofton. “We didn’t really have all of those cautions that we had at Daytona and it was nice. Those last couple of laps. When we went red-flagged I got really nervous. It just gives you time to let you think about what did happen and what could have happened.”
The aforementioned wreck, from which there were no injuries, also resulted in a red flag while safety crews cleaned up debris from the crash site. It also set up a green-white-checker finish during which Lofton pulled out to a three length lead over Baird at the final stripe.
Baird, who was trying to become the oldest stock car superspeedway winner in history, had to settle for second in Ken Schrader’s Saturn Welding Chevrolet.
“We decided to take a few chances early on and ended up in second,” said Baird. “And we didn’t have enough to get around Justin [Lofton] there. Me and Justin just ran the same speed pretty much through the whole race and we just never could get a real consistent push (from another car) there at the end.
“I personally think the ARCA Series is a great Series for these young up-and-coming kids. Some kids bypass it and I think that’s a mistake because you learn so much here.”
Fairhope, Alabama’s Grant Enfinger, in only his fifth series start, steered the BeasleyAllen.com Ford to third in the final running order earning his career-best finish.
“Our car didn’t suck up to his (Bill Baird) very well,” said Enfinger. “I would get about a half a car length to him. The only car I could get up close to was the 77; I got really close to him and that was the only way I was able to get up front. I think we did a good job today. I feel like we didn’t do anything stupid out there. Just showing that we are professional and capable of doing this at this level is what we needed to do and I think that is what we did.”
Mikey Kile, in Brad Keselowski’s Greased Lightning Cleaning Products Chevrolet, finished a career-best fourth in only his second series start.
Frank Kimmel, in the Ansell-Menards Ford, battled back from unscheduled pit stops to finish fifth.
"In a word, I'd say our day was challenging but as the saying goes 'all's well that ends well’," said nine-time champion Kimmel. "To have the problems we had with the tires and the ignition box, I'm proud of this whole team for coming home in fifth place. A championship team is definitely defined by adversity and we've proven through the first four races that we can weather the storm.”
Alli Owens finished a career-best sixth in the ElectrifyingCareers.com Toyota in front of Parker Kligerman, who finished seventh in the Cunningham Motorsports Dodge. Kligerman also maintained the points lead by five markers over Lofton, who moved into second following his win. It was also Kligerman’s sixth top-10 finish in as many starts.
Series rookie Joey Coulter scored his career-best finish in eighth in the Darrell Gwynn Foundation-Tempest Cycles Chevrolet. Kelly Bires finished ninth in the Wolfpack Rentals Toyota with Menards Pole Award winner by Ansell Tom Hessert trailing in 10th in the Buddy’s Home Furnishings Ford.
The next race for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be Saturday night, May 9 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky.