SPARTA, KY (July 14, 2002) - Another Top-5 finish was the order of the day for Jason Leffler as the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge pilot brought home a fifth-place finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night.
"The 'Ultra Bad Boys' did an awesome job tonight," commented Leffler following the 150-lap event. "The Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge was good tonight. We really had a Top-3 truck, but the way pit stops rolled out, we ended up fifth. A couple of guys came in on that last round of pit stops just for fuel and that's how we ended up fifth. It wasn't a bad night by any stretch. The guys gave me great pit stops again. We did all we could do and came away with another Top-5."
In qualifying, Leffler scorched the 1.5-mile Sparta, Ky. oval in 32.085 seconds (168.303 miles per hour), en route to his series-high sixth Bud Pole award of the season. While the lap proved to be the fastest in the 36-truck field, Leffler felt he left a little on the table.
"I overdrove it in turns one and two pretty bad and it cost us some time there, so I didn't know if it was going to hold up for the pole," commented Leffler. "The track was starting to get quicker and quicker as the session went on. The guys did and awesome job. The Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge has been pretty quick in qualifying all season long. I can count on this team to give me a fast truck week in and week out, and that helps me to focus on what I need to do come race time."
At the drop of the green flag, Leffler paced the field for the first 10 laps before yielding the point to eventual winner Mike Bliss. The Long Beach, CA driver held on to second until pitting on Lap 45 following the first caution of the evening. A blazing pit stop lead by his ASE certified crew returned Leffler to the action with the lead.
Leffler held on to the top spot for the next six circuits before dropping to third and later making his second and final pit stop of the evening under green flag conditions. Back on track, the three-time USAC National Midget Champion battled from 14th in the running order all the way back to fifth when the checkered flag flew. The solid finish netted Leffler $23,450 in earnings and boosted him from fifth to fourth in the NCTS championship standings, just 58 points behind leader and teammate, Ted Musgrave.
"We did what we had to do tonight," said Leffler. "We're having fantastic pit stops week in and week out. We got truck running pretty good, but I'm kind of stumped about what else we need to do. We're doing everything we can to win races, but we keep coming up a little short. We're going to Loudon next week and it's very similar to Milwaukee. The ASE/CARQUEST Dodge was on a rail at Milwaukee. We finished second. So hopefully we can translate that into a win at New Hampshire."
The New England 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway will take the green flag Saturday, July 20 at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 12th race of the 2002 NCTS tour will be telecast live on ESPN and broadcast on MRN radio nationwide.