LATE TIRE PROBLEMS END LEFFLER'S THREAT TO WIN IN ...
LATE TIRE PROBLEMS END LEFFLER'S THREAT TO WIN IN #32 WINFUEL CHEVY AT CHICAGO
JOLIET, IL (July 10, 2005) - This past weekend in the 'Windy City' was another rollercoaster, up-and-down weekend for the WINFUEL/Braun Racing team. After overcoming a 36th place starting position, Jason Leffler and the Braun team put the #32 WINFUEL Chevy solidly in position to contend for the win late in the race, before a flat right-rear tire put an end to their threat.
"I have never driven a race car that drove that good," Leffler said after the race. "At the beginning of the race, the car was on a rail and I was able to work my way to the front quickly. The WINFUEL guys gave me such a great car that we were consistently running times that were as fast, or faster, than the leaders."
When the fifth caution of the USG Durock 300 came out on Saturday at lap 153, Jason Leffler and the WINFUEL team were sitting in good position to compete for the win. Leffler's #32 WINFUEL Chevy was in 16th position at the time the caution flew, but the leaders still needed to make one final pit stop, while the WINFUEL team was good to go to the end. After cycling through pit stops, Leffler would find himself in contention for the win, restarting in 3rd position on lap 158 with 42 laps left in the race.
"The WINFUEL Chevy was so good on old tires," the twenty-nine year old driver said. "It took our car about 10 laps or so to really come in, but once the new wore off the other guys tires we would start reeling them in because our times didn't fall off. Todd Lohse and the WINFUEL team gave me a car that was capable of winning today."
Right before the restart on lap 158, the lap down cars lined up on the inside line next to the leaders, but #35 Jason Keller attempted to contest his position and made it three-wide coming out of turn 4 to take to the green flag. Unfortunately, Leffler had to steer his #32 WINFUEL Chevy high above the outside groove to avoid making contact with Keller, causing him to pick up debris on the tires. While attempting to come up to speed, Leffler reported that he had a flat tire and was coming to pit road for service. The WINFUEL team quickly changed right-side tires and got the #32 back out on the track, but by that time they had already lost a lap to the leaders, trapping them in 30th position.
"We were sitting in perfect position in third on that restart, but I have no idea what Jason Keller was doing going three-wide," a disappointed Leffler explained. "I had to go high coming out of four on the restart to avoid the #35 and I got up into the debris. I guess that caused the flat tire. The WINFUEL crew did a good job to get the right-sides changed and get me back out there as fast as they could, but by that time we'd already lost a lap and our chances to win were shot."
With the final laps of the race dwindling down, Leffler was running some of the fastest laps of the race, but he could only compete with the other cars that were one lap down to try and improve his position. By the time the checkered flag fell, Leffler managed to work the #32 WINFUEL Chevy back into the top-25 to salvage a 23rd place finish.
"The past two weekends, the WINFUEL team has given me excellent race cars that have been capable of competing for the win," Leffler said. "These guys have really fast race cars that should be winning; now we just have to find a way to put the #32 in Victory Lane."
Next weekend the Braun Racing/WINFUEL team will again head north, this time to Loudon, New Hampshire. Live coverage of the New England 200 from New Hampshire International Speedway begins this Saturday, July 16 at 3:00 p.m. ET on TNT.