Leffler, Team ASE/Carquest Dodge riding high heading in to PPIR. FOUNTAIN, CO (May 10, 2002) - Without a doubt, Pikes Peak International Raceway is a favorite stop on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series tour for Jason Leffler, driver of the No. 2...
Leffler, Team ASE/Carquest Dodge riding high heading in to PPIR.
FOUNTAIN, CO (May 10, 2002) - Without a doubt, Pikes Peak International Raceway is a favorite stop on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series tour for Jason Leffler, driver of the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge Ram. It's no wonder after a USAC National Midget win in at PPIR 1998 and a runner-up finish a year later, the Long Beach, CA driver can't wait to strap into his new Truck Series ride at the flat, one-mile Rocky Mountain oval.
"I love the shape of Pikes Peak," Leffler stated. "The track has got really good grip and it's the type of place where you can move around quite a bit and see if you can find a faster groove. It's almost like a bigger Richmond (VA) International Raceway. When you come down the front straightaway, you're turning the vehicle. It's almost like one big corner from Turn 3 all the way back to Turn 2. The shape of the racetrack makes for some great racing."
While the majority of Leffler's experience at PPIR has come in a Midget or USAC Silver Crown car, the 26-year-old driver has only one previous start at the PPIR oval in a vehicle with fenders. In 2000, Leffler campaigned the No. 18 MBNA Pontiac for Joe Gibbs Racing and logged a 24th-place in the NAPA Autocare 250.
"Anytime you have a lot of laps on a particular racetrack, especially one that's as unique as Pikes Peak, you're able to take some of that information back and use it to your advantage," said Leffler. "Even though I'll race the track a lot different then I did in the open-wheel car, just because of the big weight difference, it still helps to have run there in the past. With my experience in the Busch car at Pikes Peak, I should have a pretty good feel for what it's going to take to go fast in a heavier vehicle."
Although Leffler will call on his past experience to find the fast way around the track, the weather at the Fountain, CO circuit can change as rapidly as the running order in this year's Rocky Mountain 200 presented by Dodge.
"The racetrack seems to be pretty weather sensitive," explained Leffler. "The weather is so funny up there in the mountains. The temperature can change quickly effecting the track quite a bit. As a driver and a team, we have to be prepared for just about anything. You have to be able to search out a better line and sometimes you have to compromise the way you run until the next pit stop."
In last year's Truck Series event at PPIR, Ultra Motorsports drivers' Ted Musgrave and Scott Riggs each came away with Top-5 finishes. While Musgrave clawed his way to fourth, Riggs started first and came home in the runner-up spot.
Last week at Gateway International Raceway, Leffler qualified the ASE/CARQUEST Dodge fifth and brought home a career-best second-place finish. The runner-up effort catapulted Leffler from 11th to sixth in the NCTS championship standings and provides the 1998 Silver Crown champ with solid momentum heading into Pikes Peak.
"The truck was awesome at Gateway," commented Leffler. "Unfortunately we had some trouble with the transmission, so I lost a lot of ground after we made our final pit stop of the day under green. We were at the top of the sheets all weekend long. Without that problem we would have been fighting for the win. It was a good points day for us and hopefully that second-place finish will help push us over the top for a win at Pikes Peak."
The Rocky Mountain 200 presented by Dodge will take the green flag Sunday, May 19 at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The fifth 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.