Darlington: Jason Leffler preview

Jason Leffler Won first-ever NCTS pole at Darlington March, 2002 Holds NCTS qualifying track record at Darlington Best Darlington NCTS finish - sixth in 2003 LEFFLER QUOTES "I am excited to have the opportunity to drive the No. 47 Acxiom...

Jason Leffler
Won first-ever NCTS pole at Darlington March, 2002

Holds NCTS qualifying track record at Darlington

Best Darlington NCTS finish - sixth in 2003

LEFFLER QUOTES

"I am excited to have the opportunity to drive the No. 47 Acxiom Silverado. After watching the performance of the truck with the other drivers this season, especially my teammates Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte, I have tremendous confidence in how well the truck will be prepared. Morgan- Dollar Motorsports is highly respected as one of the best teams in NASCAR and having Randy Goss as the crew chief is a great experience for any driver. I am really looking forward to getting to Darlington and seeing if we can't win that race.

"Darlington is a unique track. It is a fun place to run. You run so close to the wall that grip is really important. Tire management is critical but so is track position. I am looking forward to getting back in a truck there. It is just like riding a bicycle, once I get strapped in and remember I am in a truck, it will be easy to remember what I need to do there to go fast and bring home a good finish."

Though one of the youngsters in NASCAR, Jason Leffler has a wealth of experience behind the wheel, thanks largely to his father, a big racing fan.

"He got me started and just loved all types of racing. He was definitely a huge influence on me," Leffler said. "My dad passed away... but he was involved in my career right up until he did.

"He owned all my race cars up until 1997, when I moved back to Indianapolis and started racing for other people, but he was always heavily involved in it and very supportive. Him and my mom were -- my whole family is, really -- so it was a great atmosphere for me."

Leffler started racing at age 13 in quarter-midgets before advancing to the three-quarter-midget ranks three years later. In 1999, he became the first driver in 37 years to capture three straight USAC National Midget titles. That year, Leffler also made his inaugural venture in the ranks of NASCAR when he entered the Busch Series event at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

He also made his ARCA debut that year, finishing fifth in an event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. His success led to a Busch Series ride with Joe Gibbs Racing, where he scored two top-five and four top-10 finishes on his way to a 20th-place ranking in the point standings.

Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates were impressed with Leffler's performance, and offered him the seat of the No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge in NASCAR's elite series for the 2001 season. He captured his first Bud Pole at the Protection One 400 at Kansas Speedway and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year battle.

In 2002, Leffler joined the ranks of the Craftsman Truck Series in a Dodge owned by Jim Smith, one of the most successful owners in the series. Leffler captured eight poles, 11 top-fives and 15 top-10 finishes on his way to fourth place in the Series championship.

He remained with the Smith-owned team in 2003 and scored his first Truck Series win at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in May. Though Leffler was in the hunt for the Truck Series championship, he opted to return to Cup racing when he got the call from Haas CNC Racing to drive the No. 0 Pontiac.

In 2004, Leffler took over Haas CNC's Busch Series ride. Still, his racing goals are lofty.

"Ultimately I would like to have a shot at winning the Indy 500 again. I want to win some (Nextel) Cup races and to have an opportunity with an established team or a team capable of getting to Victory Lane. Having done it (racing one season in Cup) without a whole lot of success I want to go back and redeem myself."

In 2005, Leffler will get his chance as the driver of the third Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Nextel Cup entry sponsored by FED-X.

-jkd-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler , Chip Ganassi , Jim Smith , Felix Sabates