The Hayes Jewelers 200 is a race Brian Loftin had always wanted to win.
He just didn’t expect it to happen on Saturday night at Bowman Gray Stadium.
When the season-opening 200-lap race for the Tour Type Modifieds got rained out last weekend, Loftin received a last-minute call from Jeremy Gerstner to drive the No. 15.
The 41-year-old drove it right into Victory Lane.
Loftin survived a clean restart head-to-head with Tim Brown, in addition to several crashes amongst the dominant cars in front of him. Loftin survived and he excelled.
“We had never won the 200,” an emotional Loftin said in Victory Lane. “I’ve won the 199 and 150 and I wanted the 200 bad. I didn’t have any plans of being here. They called me (Jeremy Gerstner) last night about 9 o’clock, and I was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got nothing going on. Let’s go get this thing.’
“They gave me a heck of a race car. I can’t thank these guys enough. This is one (heck) of a race team here. All of it goes to them. I was just the lucky guy holding the steering wheel.”
Brown arguably had the best overall car but was forced to drive from the back following a racing incident with Burt Myers on a Lap 125 restart. That punctured Brown’s left front and sent him to the back following a tire change.
That wasn’t even the most notable incident near the front of the field as James Civali spun off the nose of Loftin on a chaotic restart with two laps to, capping off a disappointing but spirited drive for Civali who had taken the Hillbilly No. 79 to the lead after also coming back from the rear following a spin with Brown.
Essentially, Loftin survived a 200-lap boxing match after exchanging metaphorical haymakers with Civali and Brown.
“It’s not always about having the best car,” Loftin said. “We’ve had a lot of fast cars and things sometimes don’t go your way. They went our way tonight.”
Brown took the green flag from the pole, his 13th in the history of the Hayes 200. Brown and Burt Myers exchanged the lead in the early stages of the race, which was marred by intermittent caution periods.
On the decisive restart, Brown gave Loftin a couple of shoves to move Loftin off the bottom but didn’t seek out to wreck him. They ultimately finished 1-2.
Partial results can be found below. The full results will be added as soon as they are made available.
- Brian Lofton
- Tim Brown
- Chris Fleming
- Lee Jefferies
- Randy Butner
- Daniel Yates
- Daniel Beason
- Jason Myers
- Danny Probst
- Burt Myers.