HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 7, 2003) - What started out as quite possibly the race of the season for Jason Leffler and the NetZero HiSpeed Racing team turned into bitter disappointment after an on-track incident resulted in damage to the rear...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 7, 2003) - What started out as quite possibly the race of the season for Jason Leffler and the NetZero HiSpeed Racing team turned into bitter disappointment after an on-track incident resulted in damage to the rear end of the No. 0 Pontiac Grand Prix. The team was relegated to a 28th-place finish at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway Saturday night.
After struggling slightly in the practice session leading up to their qualifying run on Friday afternoon, Leffler and the team were forced to take a provisional starting spot for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. Leffler ran a speed of 121.814 miles per hour around the .75-mile oval during his qualifying run and was awarded the 40th starting spot for the event. Leffler took the green flag for Saturday night's race and spent the first 20 laps getting a feel for the changes made to the car prior to the start of the event. Leffler communicated to crew chief Tony Furr that the car was slightly loose off the corners. A caution flag on Lap 24 of the 400-lap race allowed Furr to make changes to the car during a subsequent pit stop. Furr, in an effort to gain track position, opted to take on only two new tires, and the NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac returned to the track in the 27th spot. Another yellow flag was thrown on Lap 64, and Furr made the decision to remain on the track. All but one of Leffler's competitors ducked into the pits, which gave the NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac the lead, marking the first time the team has led a lap this season.
Leffler held on to the top spot for 20 laps before relinquishing the lead to head into the pits for a routine stop on Lap 86. Since the majority of the other teams had recently made pit stops, most stayed out on the track and Leffler left pit road in 30th.
Unfortunately, only 40 laps later, Leffler was an innocent bystander in a multi-car accident on the backstretch. Leffler lost a lap during the melee and suffered body damage to the rear of the car. Though he continued to run competitive laps, Leffler was never able to make up the lap and fought a loose handling racecar for most of the remainder of the event. Adding insult to injury, Leffler was running in the 22nd place with 25 laps to go when he encountered a flat right rear tire. Leffler took the checkered flag in 28th place.
"The NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac was really good there before the accident," said Leffler. "We were a little loose on sticker tires, but on long runs it got better and better. Tony made some good calls on pit road to get us up front. We were fast when we were leading. It just goes to show you that this team is capable of running with the lead pack when things are going well. It's unfortunate that we got involved in that wreck. There's no telling how good this car could have been."
The NetZero HiSpeed Racing team will next travel to New Hampshire International Speedway for the running of the Sylvania 300 Sunday.JQualifying for the event will take place Friday, September 12, with the drop of the green flag scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET). The event will be telecast live on TNT and will be broadcast worldwide by MRN Radio.