Leffler, Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge ready for Michigan. BROOKLYN, MI (July 22, 2002) - While Jason Leffler has seen just about everything as a driver in various open-wheel and stock car divisions, the 2002 season has presented a new challenge for...
Leffler, Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge ready for Michigan.
BROOKLYN, MI (July 22, 2002) - While Jason Leffler has seen just about everything as a driver in various open-wheel and stock car divisions, the 2002 season has presented a new challenge for the Long Beach, CA native - taming a 3400-pound Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram in the in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. That will be especially true when the Truck Series returns to the ultra-fast Michigan International Speedway and the Michigan 200.
"The biggest challenge at Michigan is going to be getting accustomed to the different handling characteristics between my ASE/CARQUEST Dodge and the Winston Cup and Busch Series cars I've driven at Michigan in the past," said Leffler. "I don't know what the differences are yet, so I'll have to work on that as soon as practice starts. I know the last time there was a Truck Series race at Michigan, it was pretty exciting. The trucks, because of their body configuration, are able to hook up and do a lot of drafting. That makes for good racing for both the drivers and the fans, so I'm looking forward to it."
Teamwork in the pits and on the racetrack always plays a crucial role in the success of any team. Just as NASCAR Winston Cup competitors Dale Earnhardt Jr. and teammate Michael Waltrip have dominated recent restrictor plate races by positioning themselves as a formidable front-running duo, the Ultra Motorsports entries - Leffler's No. 2 Dodge and veteran Ted Musgrave's No. 1 Mopar Performance Parts Dodge - will look to do the same at MIS.
"I'm going to try and hook up and draft with Ted if the opportunity presents itself," said Leffler. "It's definitely going to take drafting with another truck to run away from the rest of the field. Sometimes, it gets a little dicey when you come up on lapped traffic in the draft because the closing speed is so fast at a place like Michigan. That's when you have to be really careful. Fortunately, Michigan is wide enough and so forgiving that if you come up on someone that isn't quite sure where they need to be, you can usually drive around them without too much trouble."
Last year in two NASCAR Winston Cup starts at the Michigan Irish Hills two-mile oval, Leffler notched a 19th-place finish in the spring event and 24th-place effort in the fall. The two runs in NASCAR's top division allowed Leffler to establish a comfort level at the track, something he'll bank on in this year's Michigan Truck Series classic.
"We actually ran pretty good in both Cup races at Michigan last year," commented Leffler. "The final results may not show it, but we qualified pretty far back in the spring and wound up 19th. I started 11th in the fall race and ran near the front for a good part of the day before falling off at the end, so I have a pretty good feel for the track. With the Truck I'm in this year, I think we can run up front and stay there."
As much as the 26-year-old Leffler enjoys the high speeds the Michigan track produces, he likes the fact a driver has room to roam and find the fastest way around throughout the race.
"My favorite part about Michigan is the width of the track," Leffler stated. "There can be as many as three or four grooves at Michigan. It makes for a lot of passing and there isn't one particular place where you have to make a move. You can pass high or low. It just depends where your vehicle is working the best. Michigan really allows you to compensate for when your vehicle isn't working as good as it could. If you can't get a good run at a certain place on the track, odds are you can make up for it somewhere else.
"Michigan is cool because you can move around a lot and, if your Truck is better, it's fairly easy to pass," Leffler continued. "You have to constantly search for a place where the Truck will run faster lap times. You need a lot of horsepower to run good down the straightaway and these Dodge motors have been awesome all year. You also have to have the right aerodynamic package and I know my crew chief, Timmy Kohuth, and the 'Ultra Bad Boys' will give me that. I really like racing at Michigan and I am definitely looking forward to going back there and trying to score a win in the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge."
The Michigan 200 at Michigan International Speedway will take the green flag Saturday, July 27 at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 13th race of the 2002 NCTS tour will be telecast live on ESPN and broadcast on MRN radio nationwide.
ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) also has a long involvement in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. As the primary sponsor on the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST entry, the non-profit organization has been able to highlight its efforts to provide the highest quality professional technician certification and assessment services at all levels of vehicle maintenance and repair. In addition to ASE's racing involvement, the organization is active in numerous civic, charitable, educational and humanitarian activities.