KANSAS, Mo. (September 30, 2001)& ...
KANSAS, Mo. (September 30, 2001)– The No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge R/T driven by rookie driver Jason Leffler finished 28th in the inaugural Protection One 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Leffler won his first career NASCAR Winston Cup Bud Pole during qualifying for the Protection One 400. Leffler lead the first eight laps of the event until eventual race winner Jeff Gordon passed him. The Cingular Wireless Dodge stayed in the top-3 for the first 50 laps. The team pitted on lap 51, but a slow pit stop (17.81 sec.) sent Leffler out in ninth position. He moved up one spot and kept the Cingular Wireless Dodge in eighth position for the next 50 laps.
After the 100-lap mark, the car became tight and the team made track bar and tire pressure adjustments during pit stops on laps 114, 137 and 142. Leffler kept the Cingular Wireless Dodge in the top-20 from lap 100 to lap 250. During the restart on lap 256, Leffler lost control of the No. 01 and hit the wall on the front stretch. The Cingular Wireless Dodge had to be towed back to the garage and the team headed home with a 28th place finish.
Andy Graves, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team manager, commented on the wreck.
“ We think that the left rear tire went flat,” Graves said. “ It was going flat and then on that restart it totally went flat and came off the rim and that’s what sent him (Leffler) around.”
With his 28th place finish, Leffler remains fifth overall in Raybestos Rookie of the Year points.
“ It was a great weekend for us up to the finish,” Leffler said. “ That was really disappointing. Our strategy just didn’t work out at the end. We took two tires and gas. A lot of people just took gas. That’s the way it goes. The track changed a little bit today, but we just couldn’t get going on that last restart. It’s a real shame. We had a good car all weekend long.”
Next on the schedule for the No. 01 Cingular Wireless team is the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 7.