WEST ALLIS, WI (June 29, 2002) - Jason Leffler just missed scoring his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory equaling a personal-best second-place finish in the GNC Live Well 200 at the famed Milwaukee Mile. "We came so close," said...
WEST ALLIS, WI (June 29, 2002) - Jason Leffler just missed scoring his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory equaling a personal-best second-place finish in the GNC Live Well 200 at the famed Milwaukee Mile.
"We came so close," said Leffler, driver of the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge. "I'm disappointed we didn't win, but it matches our best finish of the season and we gained in the point standings. We changed motors this morning and had to start in the rear and came back to finish second. It's hard to be too disappointed about that."
After qualifying seventh in the 36-truck, Leffler's crew opted to change motors and were forced to drop to the rear of the field in accordance with NASCAR rules. The three-time USAC National Midget Champion wasted little time slicing his way back to the front, picking up 20 spots by Lap 41.
A strong pit stop for fuel and four tires on Lap 155 by Leffler's "Ultra Bad Boys" pit crew boosted the Long Beach, CA driver from fourth to second on the restart. The former open wheel champion quickly went to work motoring by Brendan Gaughn for the lead two circuits later.
"The crew put me in position to win the race," said Leffler. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have been in contention for the win. They gave me a great stop and that got me out in front of the other guys."
Once in the lead, Leffler drove away from the field and the second-place truck of Terry Cook. As the laps clicked down, Leffler's lead shrunk as Cook closed in. With three laps remaining and Leffler apparently headed for victory, the third and final caution flag flew for a crash in Turn 4. That wiped out Leffler's lead and gave Cook one more shot at the win.
On the final restart, Cook managed to slip under Leffler and the pair battle through Turns 1and 2. At the checkered flag, it was Cook by .0696 seconds over Leffler.
"I think we were going to be able to hold him off, but then the caution came out," said Leffler. "Actually, I was kind of surprised we were able to stay ahead of him as long as we did because he (Cook) had the dominant truck all weekend. As long as I was out front of him, I was pretty good. Once I got behind, there was nothing I could do."
Leffler earned $29,150 in prize money and moved to just 85 points out of first place in the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings. Leffler is currently fifth in the title chase after nine events.
Next up for Leffler and the No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge will be the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway, Saturday, July 6. The event will take the green flag at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time and will be telecast live on ESPN. The event will also be broadcast as it happens by MRN Radio on over 350 stations worldwide including the Armed Forces Network.