Loudon: Jason Leffler race report

Leffler, Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge foiled at Loudon. LOUDON, NH (July 21, 2002) - What appeared to be certain victory for Jason Leffler and his No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge turned into disaster when the Long Beach, CA driver was collected by a ...

Leffler, Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge foiled at Loudon.

LOUDON, NH (July 21, 2002) - What appeared to be certain victory for Jason Leffler and his No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge turned into disaster when the Long Beach, CA driver was collected by a lapped truck while leading the New England 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway Saturday.

"It's tough," said Leffler, who was credited with a 26th-place finish in the 200-lap event. "We can't even buy a break. We had another week where we were the class of the field and came away with nothing to show for it. I was leading the race and came up on a lapped truck. He raced me like we were battling for position and turned right down into me and wrecked us both. Everyone on this team works way too hard to lose that way. Calling it a shame would be an understatement."

Leffler was the class of the field all weekend blistering the 1.058-mile NHIS oval in 29.658 seconds (128.424mph), en-route to his third-straight and division-leading seventh Bud Pole of the season. The quick time at NHIS set a new track record, besting the former mark held by veteran Joe Ruttman.

"I've always struggled at this track, but, when you drive something that handles as good as the Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge does, it's hard not to like wherever you go," said Leffler. "It's a lot of fun being with this team. The track slowed down for just about everyone in qualifying and we were one of the few trucks that were able to back up what we practiced. It just goes to show how good this team really is. I'm just the lucky guy who gets to drive their truck."

At the drop of the green, Leffler fell back to second for the first 28 circuits before inheriting the lead following the second caution of the afternoon. Leffler held the point for the next 12 laps until the yellow flag waved again when he made the hard left turn on to pit road to the attention of the Tim Kohuth-led "Ultra Bad Boys" for four tires and a full load of fuel.

Now 17th in the running order, Leffler cracked the Top-5 just 42 laps later. The Team ASE pilot snared the lead again on Lap 118 until pitting under green flag conditions 14 circuits later. Back on track in second, Leffler promptly grabbed the point from Mike Bliss and pulled away to a five second lead until the ill-fated incident in Turn 3 on Lap 169.

The disappointing finish earned Leffler $10,265 and dropped the three-time USAC National Midget champion to seventh in the NCTS season point standings heading into the next event at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway.

"We've got a rock solid superspeedway program and we're headed for Michigan next week, said Leffler. "As good as this team has been, it's hard not to look forward to the next race. We just need some luck to come our way. We can't get down on ourselves because we're too good of a race team for that. We'll charge out of the gate next week, shoot for our eighth pole of the season and see if we can crack the Winner's Circle."

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.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jason Leffler , Joe Ruttman , Mike Bliss