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Trucks: Lofton wins at Charlotte

Justin Lofton claimed his maiden win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, holding on with limited fuel to beat Brad Keselowski to the chequered flag.
26-year-old Justin Lofton finally found his way to victory lane for the first time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, after winning the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 Friday night race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

β€œIt's been a long time coming,” admitted Lofton, who has had 55 starts in the series before claiming his maiden win.

Lofton had started the race on the front row of the grid alongside polesitter Ty Dillon, who led for the first 25 laps of the 134-mile, 201-lap race on the 1.5-mile paved oval considered to be the 'home' of NASCAR itself.

After a series of early cautions - the first being a spin for Brennan Newberry across the path of David Reutimann on the frontstretch, the second for oil on track dropped by Ross Chastain's truck, and the third for an accident by Daytona winner John King in turn 4 on lap 25 - James Buescher claimed the lead at the restart on lap 31 ahead of Brad Keselowski, Johnny Sauter, Ty Dillon, Ryan Sieg, Matt Crafton and Jason Leffler. Lofton had already dropped way back.

"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," Lofton said later.

Keselowski soon took the lead from Buescher but was himself deposed from the front by Ron Hornaday Jr. before the next caution on lap 72 for a second spin of the night for Newberry in turn 4.

An accident in turn 2 on lap 85 saw a spin for Paulie Harraka who caught the back of Buescher's truck, with David Reutimann getting drawn in; Justin Lofton was back in front for the restart and for the next 33 laps through a debris caution.

But Keselowski remained the main threat and was in front again by the time Nelson Piquet Jr. exited the race on lap 121 in a hard hit against the wall on turn 1 that brought out the penultimate caution of the night. That left Keselowski and a fuel-stretching Lofton squaring off at what looked the crucial restart of the night on lap 125 that was then restaged just moments later after a brief debris caution intervened.

Given his form earlier in the night, no one was banking on Lofton to nail the restarts: β€œI had terrible restarts all night,” he admitted. "The first two restarts we had we were trying some different stuff and I didn't know how to start," he added. But he was a quick study: "The stars aligned, I figured out what I needed to do."

When it mattered, he found his restart mojo and was able to pull away from Keselowski both times for the win.

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




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Justin Lofton, driver of the #6 CollegeComplete.com Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Justin Lofton, driver of the #6 CollegeComplete.com Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brennan Newberry, driver of the #14 The Jeremy Staat Foundation Chevrolet, spins in front of David Reutimann, driver of the #92 FleetHQ.com/BTS Tire & Wheel/QMI/Fatbacks Tire Chevrolet, after an on track incident during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Serta/Menards Chevrolet SS, finished ninth and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Great Stuff Chevrolet SS, finished 28th Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, poses with the trophy in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jake Crum, driver of the #01 My Freedom Smokes Chevrolet, and Bryan Silas, driver of the #99 Bell Trucks America Inc. Chevrolet, are involved in an incident during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, and the rest of the field during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, Trevor Bayne, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, Justin Allgaier, driver of the #51 Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet, and Michael Annett, driver of the #7 Allstate Peterbilt/Pilot Chevrolet, are involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Ford Mustang Ford takes the chequered flag to win the Nationwide Children`s 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, drives the #60 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Ford Mustang Ford during the Nationwide Children`s 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Ford Mustang Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Nationwide Children`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Ford Mustang Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Nationwide Children`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Nextant/Curb Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers For Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Will Schneekloth/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Nextant/Curb Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers For Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Will Schneekloth/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Nextant/Curb Toyota, leads a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers For Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Nextant/Curb Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers For Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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