Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. For Justin Lofton, that meant wiggling Joey Coulter out of the way in the closing laps to win the thrilling ARCA RE/MAX 200 presented by Belle Tire Friday night at Toledo Speedway.
Lofton, 20 laps from the finish, got into the left rear quarter of Coulter during a late-race restart. Coulter, to save the car, had to chase it up the track while Lofton drove underneath to take the lead. From there, Coulter stayed right with the eventual winner; and at times got close enough to return the favor, but settled in to finish second, one length away. It was Lofton's fifth win of the season and sixth overall of his career.
"We worked so hard to get a win here at Toledo, ARCA's hometown track," said Lofton, who led 57 laps overall. "This feels good. I didn't mean to get into Joey Coulter there. It's just racing I guess. I want to thank Valvoline Instant Oil Change for coming on board with us again. This win feels really, really good. After all the bad luck we've had here, I felt like this place owed us one. Maybe we can go get us a win now on the dirt (at DuQuoin)."
The victory padded Lofton's point lead over Parker Kligerman by 65 points while it eliminated what would have been a career-first win for Coulter.
"We definitely had the car to beat but we just plain got moved out of the way," said Coulter, who led 70 laps overall. "It's disappointing but I can't get mad about it because that's racing so I guess that's just the way it is. At least that's the way it was tonight. We'll see about next time. I want to thank the Darrell Gwynn Foundation and Tempest Cycles for all their help. We'll just come back next year and win this thing."
Kligerman, by way of some extra-assertive driving, finished third in the Cunningham Motorsports Dodge. Kligerman, who charged from the back end after getting spun, also received a warning from series officials during the race regarding his aggressive nature.
"I am really proud of the guys on the team," said Kligerman, who led the most laps (73). "They helped me get back up to the front after the 32 (Beau Slocumb) hit us. We made two pit stops and we were only supposed to make one so it was a great effort from Chris Carrier and all of the guys on the Cunningham Motorsports team."
Frank Kimmel, in the Ansell-Menards Ford, finished fourth.
"Wish these kids would stop running into everyone," said Kimmel. "Every lap was a close call out there tonight. Overall the car handled pretty good all night. There was never really a clear cut dominant car but we were definitely in the mix and that's all you can hope for. But a top-five finish is a good, solid day for Ansell and Menards and we'll take that to DuQuoin and try to get us a win."
Ken Schrader finished fifth in the Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet.
Coulter earned the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell and led the first 23 laps before Kligerman maneuvered to the front. Kligerman led up through lap 67 before he and Coulter came to pit road for service under caution. That gave the lead to Lofton, who held the point up through lap 103 before he too came down pit road for service. By that time, Kligerman raced his way back into position and regained the lead after Lofton went to pit road. However, Kligerman could not shake Coulter, who took the lead away from Kligerman on lap 133. From there, Coulter continually pulled away from the field until a late-race caution bunched up the pack for the restart that led to the on-track incident between him and Lofton.
Craig Goess drove the Greenville of North Carolina Toyota to the finish in sixth with Bryan Silas trailing in seventh in the Rockingham Speedway-Holland Pumps Chevrolet. Sixteen-year-old Chris Buescher was eighth in the Roulo Brothers-prepared David Ragan Fan Club Ford in front of Beau Slocumb, who steered the Wolfpack Rentals Dodge home in ninth. Steve Arpin battled back from a few on-track altercations to finish 10th in the Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet.
From Toledo, the ARCA RE/MAX Series heads to DuQuoin, Illinois Labor Day Monday, September 7th for the 57th running of the Southern Illinois 100 on the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile-dirt.
Official Results, ARCA RE/MAX 200 by Belle Tire at Toledo Speedway (9-4-09)
Toledo, Ohio, (AP) _ The official finish for Friday's ARCA RE/MAX 200 presented by Belle Tire at Toledo Speedway for ARCA RE/MAX Series stock cars with starting position in parenthesis, driver, hometown, type of car, laps completed, and reason out of race, if any:
1. (2) Justin Lofton, Westmorland, Calif., Toyota, 200; 2. (1) Joey Coulter, Miami Springs, Fla., Chevrolet, 200; 3. (3) Parker Kligerman, Westport, Conn., Dodge, 200; 4. (11) Frank Kimmel, Clarksville, Ind., Ford, 200; 5. (7) Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo., Chevrolet, 200; 6. (9) Craig Goess, Greenville, N.C., Toyota, 200; 7. (14) Bryan Silas, Stuart, Fla., Chevrolet, 200; 8. (4) Chris Buescher, Prosper, Texas, Ford, 200; 9. (6) Beau Slocumb, Juliette, Ga., Dodge, 200; 10. (5) Steve Arpin, Fort Frances, Ont., Chevrolet, 200; 11. (12) Tom Hessert, Cherry Hill, N.J., Ford, 200; 12. (16) Robb Brent, Shelby Township, Mich., Dodge, 200; 13. (8) Dakoda Armstrong, New Castle, Ind., Dodge, 200; 14. (22) Kory Rabenold, Slatington, Pa., Ford, 200; 15. (18) Michel Disdier, Nice, France, Ford, 200; 16. (19) Tim George, Jr., New York, N.Y., Toyota, 200; 17. (17) Patrick Sheltra, Indiantown, Fla., Chevrolet, 199; 18. (15) Ken Butler III, Lilburn, Ga., Ford, 195; 19. (24) Brad Smith, Shelby Township, Mich., Ford, 188; 20. (23) Levi Youster, Oak Harbor, Ohio, Ford, 184; 21. (21) Darrell Basham, Henryville, Ind., Chevrolet, 164; 22. (10) Justin Lloyd, Mooresville, N.C., Chevrolet, 151, accident; 23. (27) Todd Antrican, Lebanon, Ohio, Chevrolet, 65, suspension; 24. (20) Jeremy Petty, Smolan, Kan., Chevrolet, 62, engine; 25. (13) Terry Jones, Amherstburg, Ont., Dodge, 56, engine; 26. (29) Barry Fitzgerald, Sykesville, Md., Ford, 53, clutch; 27. (26) Jeff MacZink, Rockwood, Mich., Chevrolet, 48, rear end; 28. (30) Jason Basham, Henryville, Ind., Chevrolet, 21, brakes; 29. (28) James Hylton, Inman, S.C., Ford, 13, clutch; 30. (25) Larry Meadors, Louisville, Ky., Ford, 2, vibration; 31. (31) Wayne Peterson, Pulaski, Tenn., Chevrolet, 1, clutch.
Time of race: 1 hour, 43 minutes, 5 seconds; Margin of victory: .448 seconds; Lap leaders: Coulter 1-23, Kligerman 24-67, Lofton 68-103, Kligerman 104-132, Coulter 133-179, Lofton 180-200.