KANSAS CITY, KANSAS (October 5, 2003) - A fuel mileage miscue spoiled one of the strongest runs of the season for Jason Leffler and the NetZero HiSpeed Racing team at Kansas Speedway Sunday. After running out of gas and falling two laps down mid-race, Leffler took the checkered flag in the 30th spot.
45 cars competed for 43 starting spots Friday afternoon during qualifying for the Banquet 400. After turning the 17th fastest time in practice earlier in the day, Leffler posted a speed of 179.176 miles per hour around the 1.5-mile oval, which earned him the sixth spot on the starting grid.
Leffler took the green flag for the start of the event and remained near the front of the field before ducking down pit road for the first scheduled pit stop of the day on Lap 61. After the NetZero HiSpeed crew bolted on four fresh tires and filled the tank up with fuel, Leffler returned to the track in the 14th position and continued to hang tight with the leaders until a caution flag flew on Lap 83. The team went to work during a subsequent pit stop changing only right side tires. Following the stop, Leffler radioed to crew chief Tony Furr that the car was much too loose, but the team opted for track position and stayed out on the racetrack while most of the field made another round of pit stops during the next caution period.
Leffler led laps 107 through 110 under yellow and took the green flag while still at the front of the field. Leffler fell to eighth place when the NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac developed a push in the center of the corners and then, on Lap 152 of the 267-lap event, he radioed to the crew that the car was out of fuel. Leffler was able to drive the car to pit road, but lost two laps during the process and returned to the track in 38th. Though still one of the fastest cars on the track, Leffler was unable to make up his laps and finished the event in 30th place. For its effort, the team earned $62,285.
"We had a good car today," commented Leffler. "I don't know exactly what happened there when we ran out of fuel, but it got us two laps down and now, with the new rules, it was impossible to get them back even though we could race up there with the leaders on the restarts. I'm sure someday the rule will work in our favor, but today it was frustrating. Obviously the NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac was better than our finish showed and we were really hoping for a better result after we qualified so well. We had another good car and it was a good, fun race for us for a while."
After spending two days testing at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this week, Leffler and the No. 0 NetZero HiSpeed Racing team will stick close to home for Saturday night's running of the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's (Concord, N.C.) Motor Speedway. Qualifying for the event will take place Thursday, October 9, with the drop of the green flag scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (ET). The event will be telecast live on NBC and will be broadcast worldwide by PRN Radio.