Top-15 Finish For Leffer In EA Sports 500 01 Cingular Wireless TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 21, 2001) -- The No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge R/T driven by rookie driver Jason Leffler finished 15th in the EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. For...
Top-15 Finish For Leffer In EA Sports 500
01 Cingular Wireless
TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 21, 2001) -- The No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge R/T driven by rookie driver Jason Leffler finished 15th in the EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. For the second time this season, Leffler was the highest finishing rookie; he also led all rookies in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
The Cingular Wireless Dodge started the 188-lap Talladega event in 41st position. As the field went three-wide, Leffler took the middle lane and quickly moved up to 16th position by lap 4. Leffler continued the drive and entered the top-5 on lap 8. The Cingular Wireless Dodge battled in the top-10 for the first 30 laps and Leffler lead laps 37 and 38 of the EA Sports 500.
On lap 47, the Cingular Wireless Dodge pitted and took two tires during green flag pit stops. Following the stop, the Cingular Wireless Dodge floated between 18th to 30th positions for the following 50 laps.
The team had another green flag pit stop on lap 94 and took on four tires and fuel in a 14.75 second stop. The yellow flag came out on lap 95 for an accident and gave the team a big break. While the rest of the field came in for pit stops, Leffler stayed out and restarted the event in second position.
Leffler moved up and down the field but stayed in the top-20 until lap 131 when the Cingular Wireless Dodge came in for four tires and fuel during a caution period. The team opted to come in again on lap 132 to top off the fuel tank in hopes of making it the rest of the way without another caution or pit stop.
Leffler conserved fuel running in the top-20 until a caution came out on lap 149 for debris on the track. The team pitted and took on four tires and fuel. Leffler restarted the race in the 26th position but moved up to 13th by lap 160. He followed the No. 24 car of Jeff Gordon through the pack and moved up to sixth position in the process.
Leffler hung in ninth through 15th position until he was involved in a multi-car accident in the final lap of the EA Sports 500. The Cingular Wireless Dodge finished the EA Sports 500 in 15th position. Leffler was the highest finishing rookie of the event; he remains in fifth place in Raybestos Rookie of the Year points.
"I couldn't tell you what started it," Leffler said of the last lap accident. " The first thing I saw was the 18 going sideways. Everything just broke loose. You knew it was going to happen the way everyone was driving."
"I moved around all day trying to figure out the best lane, and at the end, I think we had the best lane. We weren't going to win, but we might have ended up in the top-5 or top-10 easily, but that's the way it goes. I was right in the middle of that wreck on the last lap. I spun around and hit the wall."
Next on the schedule for the No. 01 Cingular Wireless team is the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, Oct. 28.