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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)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finished in 26th position and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet SS finished in 13th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Gordon, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
The crew of Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, leads the field near the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, races Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates with an American flag after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Timothy Peters, driver of the #17 Red Horse Racing Toyota, poses in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fred`s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Timothy Peters, driver of the #17 Red Horse Racing Toyota, hugs Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fred`s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Trucks race during the NASCAR Camping World Series Fred`s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCCAR via Getty Images)
Timothy Peters, driver of the #17 Red Horse Racing Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Series Fred`s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Timothy Peters, driver of the #17 Red Horse Racing Toyota, leads the field at the end of the NASCAR Camping World Series Fred`s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tayler Malsam, driver of the #32 Outerwall Chevrolet, leads a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Series Fred`s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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