SPARTA, KY (July 8, 2002) - There are only a few tracks on the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule where Jason Leffler hasn't competed. While Kentucky Speedway, the site of this weekend's Kroger 225 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race is...
SPARTA, KY (July 8, 2002) - There are only a few tracks on the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule where Jason Leffler hasn't competed. While Kentucky Speedway, the site of this weekend's Kroger 225 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race is one of them, Leffler is still confident of a solid finish thanks in great part to the experience of his No. 2 Team ASE/CARQUEST Dodge team.
"I've tested at Kentucky, but never raced there," said Leffler. "It's very similar in layout to places like Kansas and Nashville, but with it's own personality. I know the track has been resurfaced recently and I haven't been there since the repaving, so I'll be walking into unfamiliar ground. I'll go out for the first couple of laps in practice and take it easy and just try and figure out where the truck wants to run, but then it's going to be time to open it up."
Although Leffler is new to the Truck Series this season, the Long Beach, CA driver has proven to be a quick study. At Kentucky, he'll be driving the same Ultra Motorsports truck that won the 2001 Kentucky NCTS event. That should make up for at least part of his lack of experience at the Kentucky track.
"Obviously, the 'Ultra Bad Boys' know what they're doing at Kentucky," commented Leffler. "They qualified third and won the race last year, so that should make up for my lack of experience. It's that kind of track where if the truck is set up right, that makes it a lot easier on the driver, but it might be a little different now since the track has been repaved. We'll need a lot of horsepower and I know for sure the bottom will be the preferred line. It's going to be a lot of fun because it presents a whole new set of challenges for me."
With the Kentucky event coming in the heart on the 22-race NCTS schedule, Leffler knows a solid run will be key to his 2002 championship hopes. After starting out the season with five Bud Pole Position runs in the first 10 events of the season, the 1998 USAC Silver Crown Champion will rely in his Ultra Motorsports crew to get him out front and keep him there.
"This team has been together for the last four years," explained Leffler. "They work together very well in the garage and on pit road. They've been getting me off of pit road first consistently over the last two weeks and that's what it takes to win races. It's a lot easier to pick up spots in the pits than it is on the racetrack."
Last week at Kansas Speedway, Leffler just missed scoring his first career NCTS victory after another truck showered the track and Leffler's windshield in oil. While Leffler was able to hang on for fourth, his fifth Top-5 in 10 races was bittersweet.
"Man I wanted to win that one," commented Leffler. "We had an awesome truck at Kansas. We led some laps, had awesome pit stops and ran in the Top-5 all day. We were running second with four laps to go and the leader dumped oil all over the place. My windshield was completely covered, so I couldn't see anything. Actually, I was lucky to hang on to finish fourth, but I'm itching to get the ASE/CARQUEST Dodge in Victory Lane. Everyone in this organization has put a lot of faith in me and now it's time for me to reward them with a win. We're close, real close. Hopefully Kentucky will be the place."
The Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway will take the green flag Saturday, July 13 at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 11th race of the 2002 NCTS tour will be telecast live on ESPN and broadcast on MRN radio nationwide.