Matt Lofton, No. 16, Daytona Int'l Speedway Post-Race Review

Published on February 20, 2012

Matt Lofton and the No. 16 team headed to the sunshine state this past weekend for the 2012 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season opener and the running of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway.  Lofton, competitive inside the top 15 most of the day, suffered fuel issues late in the race resulting in a 34th-place finish.
The No. 16 team unloaded for a single practice on Thursday afternoon. Lofton utilized his time on the track to get a handle on his Chevy and ultimately drafted with teammate Joey Coulter. Just before the end of practice, the No. 16 machine broke a valve spring forcing the crew to change engines after practice. Lofton returned to the track Friday afternoon and qualified his No. 16 machine 24th to start the 80-lap race.
When the green flag dropped under cloudy Daytona skies, the Roxboro, N.C. native used the initial laps to get accustomed to “pack racing.”  The day’s first caution waved on lap six, which gave crew chief Jon Wolfe the opportunity to bring his driver for pit road for a full tank of fuel and to play his hand at fuel strategy. Lofton returned to the track in the 25th spot. 

Green-flag racing resumed on lap 13 and Lofton quickly found a strong group to draft with.  A caution quickly flew once again for an incident on the backstretch. This gave teams the opportunity to pit, but Wolfe called for Lofton to remain on the speedway and to save fuel. Racing went back to green on lap 17 with Lofton in the 15th spot. The driver held his own inside the top 30 with strong coaching by spotter Stevie Reeves and advice from teammate Joey Coulter.  As the packs began to move around Lofton lost the draft and dropped to 25th. 

The caution flag flew once again on lap 67 while Lofton was in the 23rd position. The team again called for their driver to stay out on the track, but the earlier gamble of fuel strategy did not pay off. Lofton ran out of fuel on the backstretch and was forced to coast back to pit road with assistance. As the crew filled his Chevy with fuel, Lofton made several attempts to re-fire the engine and finally succeeded.  He unfortunately fell two laps down in the process as he returned to the track in the 35th position. 

As the remaining laps ticked away, Lofton used his time on the track as a learning experience. By the end of the 200-mile event Lofton took the checkered flag in the 34th position in his first event at Daytona International Speedway. 

“What a week,” Lofton said. “We had our ups and downs from changing engines after practice to running inside the top 15 today. It was definitely a learning experience and I’m proud of all the hard work the guys put into this car. We’ll head back to the shop and review everything from this week  so we can build on it and head to Mobile bringing our A-game. Thanks to Coulter Motorsports and for all the support and I hope to get them in victory lane this year.”
Next Stop: ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will head to Mobile International Speedway on March 10, 2012 for the running of the Mobile ARCA 200.


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