HOMESTEAD, FL (November 15, 2002) - Solid pit strategy fueled by a late-race caution helped propel Jason Leffler and his No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge to a third-place run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami ...
HOMESTEAD, FL (November 15, 2002) - Solid pit strategy fueled by a late-race caution helped propel Jason Leffler and his No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge to a third-place run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway Friday.
"That's a great way for us to finish up the season," said Leffler. "My crew chief Tim Kohuth made a great call to stay out near the end of the race. I wasn't very happy with the way the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge was handling near the end of the last fuel run and I was thinking about short pitting, but Timmy kept me out and sure enough the caution came out with a little more then 20 laps to go. That put us as one of only five trucks on the lead lap. It couldn't have worked out any better."
In time trials Thursday, Leffler toured the 1.5-mile Homestead oval in 36.943 seconds (146.171 mph), posting the third-fastest speed of the 43 trucks attempting to qualify for 36 starting positions.
"I think we got everything out of our qualifying lap that we wanted. The guys did an awesome job. Our Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge was pretty quick during practice, and we were really good in race trim. Third spot was another great effort by my guys."
At the drop of the green, Leffler fell one spot, but powered his way back into third by Lap 7. From there, the Long Beach, CA driver held down his starting position until heading for pit road under green flag conditions on Lap 56.
Following a four-tire stop including a full load of fuel, Leffler returned to the action fourth. The three-time USAC National Midget Champion never faded further then sixth in the running order and worked his way back to fourth when the first and only caution flag of the afternoon flew on Lap 111.
Leffler again took the hard left onto pit road, this time for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Back under green, now in second, Leffler dueled with eventual Ron Hornaday for the top spot before settling for third, his ninth Top-5 of the year.
"It was getting near the end of the race and there was a lot of hard racing going on," commented Leffler. "I was pretty disappointed because there was a lapped truck ahead of me and he held me up pretty bad. When you get down near the end of the race you would hope that a guy who is a lap down would give the leaders room to go ahead and try and race for the win. It's unfortunate, because I think that cost us a shot at the win."
The third-place effort netted Leffler $21,875 in prize money and boosted him to fourth in the final NCTS championship standings.
"It's really been a great season. We've finished second six times, led a bunch of laps and been in contention to win a lot of these races," said Leffler. "I just have to thank Timmy and all of my guys. Team ASE and CARQUEST have supported us all year and Joey Arrington has built awesome power. We came up short on winning a race, but we don't have anything to hang our heads about. We picked up one spot in the points, so even though we didn't win it was a good day."
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship awards banquet will ring down the curtain on the 2002 season Saturday, November 16 at the Sheraton Bal Harbour Resort in Bal Harbour, FL. The event will be telecast on a tape-delayed basis on the Speed Channel Saturday, December 4 at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.