Dodge grabs manufacturers' lead in Craftsman Truck Series. Jason Leffler's victory in Friday's MBNA Armed Forces Family 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race gave Dodge a 41-40 advantage over Chevrolet in the manufacturers' championship...
Dodge grabs manufacturers' lead in Craftsman Truck Series.
Jason Leffler's victory in Friday's MBNA Armed Forces Family 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race gave Dodge a 41-40 advantage over Chevrolet in the manufacturers' championship standings after six races of the 25-event season. Ford is third with 33 points.
JASON LEFFLER (No. 2 Team ASE/Carquest Racing Dodge Ram) - Scores First Craftsman Truck Series Victory
"I think not being able to qualify hurt us and we started ninth. We got shuffled back on the start, but the guys did an awesome job. Dennis and Timmy did an awesome job tuning on the truck. The guys in the pits did great. The truck wasn't quite where we wanted it, but it was better than everybody else we were racing. We were able to gain some ground. I'm happy. I can't believe it. Hopefully this is the first of many.
"Dennis (Conner) coming on board as crew chief helped a lot. I think maybe Dennis brought the luck we didn't have before. I started 2000 running Busch for Joe Gibbs and MBNA and started running well at the end of the season. I probably thought I was a little better than I was at the time and got a great opportunity with Chip Ganassi. It just didn't work out, so I've known Jim Smith for a long time in the truck series. I knew they had great equipment, so it was good for me to come to the truck series and get my confidence. Right now, I guarantee you I'm the most confident guy in the garage area.
"It's been frustrating because we've been so close with this truck, but as far as watching the other guys, there's a few guys that's made it out of USAC, but I've got more friends that are still there in USAC running week in and week out. The truck series is a great series. You make a great living and it's certainly one of the top three series in the country as far as auto racing goes. The only frustrating part was knowing we had a fast truck and couldn't quite get to victory lane.
"I had better equipment to drive trucks than IRL cars.
"You never know what's going to happen. I tried to keep everything out of my head and just hit my marks those last few laps. I was most worried about getting a yellow and having a green-white-checkered. I just wanted to get to the end and get it over with. It's awesome to finally get one. I think we're going to get a bunch more now.
"One of the biggest races I've ever won in my career was the Hoosier Hundred, and I won that last May. In my heart, that was one of the biggest races. I've won a lot of USAC races, but winning a race on one of the touring NASCAR Series is really incredible, and this isn't going to be the only one. It's a big weight off my shoulders. I think the guys feel it, too. I think Dennis coming along has really helped, and I'm convinced he brought the luck with him."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Sqaure D Dodge Ram) - Finishes Second, Extends Points Lead
"We had a vibration in the truck. We know what the problem was and we had to fix it. I thought Newt (crew chief Moore) made a good call. He put old tires on when we made that first pit stop to save tires. We struggled a little bit there, but we still drove back to the top five. If I had run the pace those youngsters were running, I would have run the tires off, so right there at the end I just rode along and watched them run harder and harder. I'd watch their left front wheel and I could tell they were getting tighter and tighter. I had them read Jason's lap times and my lap times. I knew I didn't have anything for Jason but thought I could do something with the other two guys and we just waited until the end of the race to do it.
"What can they do about qualifying? We hear stuff all year about the decisions they're making, but 99 percent of the time they're not wrong if you look at what they're up against.
"I don't guess I have any secrets besides just making laps. I've been around here a lot, and I know those guys go out there and follow me and Ted or Harvick because they know we've got a lot of laps. You can't do anything about it. You've got to go on and do your own deal.
"If you look at any point situation you don't try to control your own destiny. You let everybody else control your destiny and that's what we try to do. We don't really get rattled if someone is a lot faster than we are. We don't get rattled if we finish sixth or seventh. We do get rattled if we tear up the truck. We've been to two short tracks and haven't had a scratch on the truck yet. You just sort of race the race track. You go to Darlington and you race the race track. We try to do that everywhere we go. I guess we're points racing a little bit, but we want to win these things. We feel like we should have already won three other races.
"My company has been mechanically sound since we hired Joe Ruttman about four years ago. That's attributed to people having a little heart in what they do. I've got the benefit of being in the Nashville area. They come there to work on the race team, and they don't get spoiled by living in Charlotte where they can bounce around from shop to shop."
ROBERT PRESSLEY (No. 59 Harris Trucking Dodge Ram)
"We just got tight after the second run. We ended up with another top 10, but that's about all you can say about it. When you're tight at this place, you're not going to run too fast."
TED MUSGRAVE (No. 1 Mopar Performance Dodge Ram)
"There was no indication. We were just out there on cruise. The truck was awesome. Everybody pushes it to the limit. We just got a little over the limit on the motor. I'm not going to complain about it. Once it awhile something happens. It might just have been a little part failure. We're trying for everything we can get, and every time we get near the top in points something happens. This team is good. It fights back. We showed everybody we had the truck to beat today. We were out there just waiting for the end. Jason (Leffler) runs a little different setup than I do, but I think he might have enough to win today."
BRENDAN GAUGHAN (The Orleans Hotel Dodge Ram)
"I feel sorry for Tina. It was my fault. I just lost my patience. The Good Lord and this Orleans team really takes care of me. We were coming hard. You can tell by looking at the truck. We hit hard, but I'm fine. I'm not hurt at all. It was more my fault than anything. I think we had a second or third-place truck today. We had old tires on because we used up everything we had trying to get back on the lead lap."