SPARTA, KY- (July 12, 2003) - NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Jason Leffler fought through a plethora of problems to post a solid fifth-place finish in the Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway. Leffler started the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge...
SPARTA, KY- (July 12, 2003) - NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Jason Leffler fought through a plethora of problems to post a solid fifth-place finish in the Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway. Leffler started the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge in fourth on the grid and appeared to have the truck to beat in the early going. Leffler steadily made a hard charge past the top three competitors and claimed the lead after passing Bobby Hamilton on lap 12.
"We had a really good truck in the early going," Leffler said. "That first set of Goodyear tires were really hooked up and we went right to the front. This Ultra Motorsports team gave me a good truck in practice and qualifying and when the green flag fell for the race we just took off."
Leffler held down the top spot until the caution flag flew on lap 29 when fellow NCTS Competitor Brandon Whitt blew an engine. The Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge came in for four tires and gas and came out in the 11th position. When the field restarted on lap 33 it became apparent that Leffler's ride was not as stout as it had been during the previous green flag run. Leffler battled a variety of handling problems and the Long Beach, CA native's misfortune was compounded by a hole that was gouged in the right front corner of the nose of his Dodge nose.
"I was battling with Jon Wood and I had a run on him off of Turn Four early in the event," commented Leffler following the event. "He got a little loose coming through the tri-oval and we made contact. I was down as low as I could go and I had to pass him on the flat part of the track."
Leffler climbed all the way back to the sixth spot on a long green flag run that punctuated the middle portion of the race. When the next caution came out on lap 81 the three-time USAC National Midget Champion brought his Dodge to the attention of his Dennis Conner led crew. On lap 83 the Ultra Motorsports team bolted on the same four tires he had started the race with, filled it with gas and repaired the hole in the nose. They then elected to return to pit road two laps later to top off Leffler's fuel tank for the run to the end.
Over the remaining 65 laps, Leffler moved from the 12th position up to fifth but did not have enough to make it to the front of the pack. Rookie Carl Edwards took the checkered flag to score his first NCTS win. Leffler earned $22,250 for his efforts and still remains in the eighth position in the NCTS points standings, 167 markers behind leader Travis Kvapil.
"Anytime you finish in the top-five you have had a good day," Leffler stated. "We picked up some ground on several of the teams in front of us in the points race. The truck was just not as fast after we put on the second set of tires. I don't really know what made it go away like it did but we'll take this finish and build on it."
The next stop for the NCTS teams is the Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois on Saturday July 19th. The event will be broadcast live by the Speed Channel and MRN Radio at 9pm ET.