Kansas City: Jason Leffler race report

KANSAS CITY, KS (July 6, 2002) - Jason Leffler set a new track record en route to his fifth Bud Pole award this season and followed it up by steering his No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge to a fourth-place finish in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250...

KANSAS CITY, KS (July 6, 2002) - Jason Leffler set a new track record en route to his fifth Bud Pole award this season and followed it up by steering his No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge to a fourth-place finish in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway Saturday.

"Fourth isn't too bad, but I really think the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge was capable of winning today," Leffler stated after the race. "The leader blew up in front of me with about three laps to go and I got into the oil. I was able to hang on, but my windshield was completely covered with oil and I couldn't see at all. My spotter, Eddie Thrap, was my eyes for the rest of the race. I had all I could do to keep from wrecking. There was nothing I could do but hang on. I'm a little disappointed because we had an awesome truck, but as far as the big picture goes, we had a good day."

Leffler charged off the pole and set the pace in the early going before yielding the top spot to teammate Ted Musgrave. The Long Beach, CA driver fell back to fifth before working his way back to second by Lap 45. Leffler took the hard left on to pit road following the second caution of the day where his ASE Certified crew bolted on four-tires, including a full load of fuel that pit him back atop the leader board. Leffler, a three-time USAC National Midget champion, then ran in the Top-3 until the next round of pits stops where his crew again got him off pit road first.

"Our pit stops were awesome," commented Leffler. "Every time I pitted my guys got me out first. They're getting better and better every week. I just can't put into words how talented these guys are. They've been practicing at the shop everyday and it shows every time we head down pit road."

Back under green, Leffler waged a spirited battle with Rick Crawford for the top spot in the closing laps. With just four laps remaining, Crawford detonated an engine right in front of Leffler causing the 26-year-old driver to slow on the oily track. Leffler fell two spots in the running order to fourth and somehow managed to stay there to the finish despite nearly zero visibility from the driver's seat of his No. 2 Dodge Ram. Leffler earned $15,950 in prize money and remained fifth in the NCTS championship standings, just 19 markers out of second.

"We just can't seem to break the ice and get ourselves into the Winner's Circle," said Leffler. "I have no doubt we'll be there very soon, but we haven't been able to catch a break lately. I'm sure we'll take the same truck to Kentucky next week, so we'll certainly be looking for another pole, but this time we sure would like to be in Victory Lane when it's over."

Next up for Leffler and his Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge will be the Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway, Saturday, July 13 at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 11th race of the 2002 NCTS tour will be telecast live on ESPN and broadcast on MRN radio nationwide.

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