Leffler, Team ASE/Carquest Dodge snare runner-up finish at Gateway. MADISON, IL (May 5, 2002) - Jason Leffler overcame an ailing transmission and avoided disaster to score a career-best, second-place finish in the Ram Tough 200 NASCAR Craftsman...
Leffler, Team ASE/Carquest Dodge snare runner-up finish at Gateway.
MADISON, IL (May 5, 2002) - Jason Leffler overcame an ailing transmission and avoided disaster to score a career-best, second-place finish in the Ram Tough 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Gateway International Raceway Sunday.
"The Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge was awesome today," said Leffler. "We blew the transmission out of it around Lap 92 and all I had was fourth gear. That really killed us when we made our last pit stop under green. We lost a lot of time leaving pit road, but once we got up to speed the truck was fine. We made a chassis adjustment and that really helped even though we didn't have third gear. It was an awesome day for the 'Ultra Bad Boys.' We took what could have been a bad day and ran second."
Leffler started fifth in the 36-truck field and quickly made a charge to the front at the drop of the green flag. The three-time USAC National Midget Champion made his way to the runner-up spot and ran in the Top-5 all day before heading to pit road following the third and final caution of the afternoon.
Following a four-tire stop including a full load of fuel and a wedge adjustment, Leffler returned to the track in third position. Back under green, the 26-year-old driver sliced his way into the lead grabbing the point for the first time.
"After we made that first stop the truck just kept getting better," explained Leffler. "Before we came in, it was pretty tight on the exit of both corners, so I knew that was where we needed to gain on it in the pits. Then I lost everything in the transmission except fourth gear.
Once Terry Cook (the Gateway race winner) got by me, I could tell he had a fast truck," Leffler continued. "If we didn't loose all that track position coming out of the pits, I think we would have had something for him. Without the transmission problem, we would have been a lot closer near the end. My Ultra Motorsports crew gave me a couple of awesome stops. I was praying that we wouldn't have another caution because with only fourth gear, I would have gotten killed on a restart."
Despite the problem, Leffler still managed the career-best finish in just his fifth NCTS start.
"I've been to Gateway several times and I really like the racetrack," commented Leffler, who led twice for a total of 42 laps. "The Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge was fast right off the trailer and stayed that way all weekend. I have to thank (crew chief) Timmy Kohuth and all the boys. I'm really happy to be in this ride. In order to win you have to contend, and we were a contender today. We're going win some races this year."
The strong Gateway effort earned the Long Beach, CA driver $34,650 and catapulted Leffler from 11th to sixth-place in the NCTS championship chase.
Next up for Leffler and the "Ultra Bad Boys" will be the Colorado 200 presented by Dodge at Pikes Peak International Raceway Sunday, May 19 at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The fifth race of the 2002 NCTS tour will be telecast live on ESPN and broadcast on MRN Radio nationwide.