Leicht Gets First ASA Late Model Victory in His First Start 17-Year-Old Enters the Closing Stretch of the ASA Season With Momentum CHICAGO, IL (August 23, 2004) -- It might have been an off weekend from the ASA National Tour for Stephen Leicht,...
Leicht Gets First ASA Late Model Victory in His First Start
17-Year-Old Enters the Closing Stretch of the ASA Season With Momentum
CHICAGO, IL (August 23, 2004) -- It might have been an off weekend from the ASA National Tour for Stephen Leicht, but the 17-year-old North Carolina driver and a few members of his WalTom Racing Development team didn't resist a little on-track bumping-and-banging. So they made the short tow from their shops in Milwaukee (WI) to Michigan for the ASA Late Model Calhoun County 100 at the Calhoun County Speedway.
It was Leicht's first start in the division. It turned out it was also his first win as Leicht held off late model veteran Scott Baker to take the dominating victory.
"This is awesome," said Leicht. "I always love driving this type of car and it was so good. There have only been three races in my career where I have had a car that has been this good. We only made minor adjustments to it after unloading it. The car was fast on the outside; it was fast on the inside. You don't get to drive many cars like that and when you do, you need to take advantage of it."
Even if the car was fast, getting it to Victory Lane was not easy. Leicht took the lead on lap 22 and led through numerous caution periods. There was some confusion on the correct restart procedures and with 23 laps to go, he was penalized by ASA officials and lost two positions.
"On the first five or six restarts of the night where we led, we were fine," said Leicht. "ASA liked what we were doing. All of a sudden, they didn't like it anymore and told us to restart at the white line in turn four. On lap 77, I waited to go until I got up to exactly where they told me to go and it caused a big wreck behind us. They blamed us for the wreck and we had to go back to third."
Leicht was a little confused about the call.
"I don't know what the deal was," Leicht said. "Nothing was said to us about this in the driver's meeting and I'll have to ask the officials before the next race. I was trying to lay back and do what they wanted and I was getting pushed from the rear. There was more pushing going on behind us and that's what caused the problems."
With only a handful of laps remaining, Leicht charged back to the lead and won without effort.
"Within three laps of the restart, I passed Bobby Stremme for second on the inside," said Leicht. "Two laps later, I got by the leader on the outside. He wasn't going to give me a lane down low; he was running right down to the dirt. We had a good enough car to come back and take the lead again. It would have been a different story if we had been out front before and just trying to hold everyone off."
In the last ASA National Tour event at Jennerstown Speedway (PA), Leicht closed the gap to the Rookie of the Year point lead to only 45 markers. He's got momentum on his side heading into the final five events of 2004.
"This Late Model win was just an icebreaker for us," said Leicht. "The crew is all pumped up and I have more confidence as a driver. We've had a car this good at some of the National Tour events this season and we ran out of time at Lakeland, Lanier and Jennerstown. We've got the car and the crew to win and I think that we'll be able to do that soon."
The next event for the ASA National Series is Sunday, August 29th, at the Milwaukee Mile (WI). Leicht has not raced there before, but feels ready for the historic track.
"I was at Milwaukee last week for a media event," said Leicht. "I watched some of the Craftsman Truck Series teams testing. Dennis Setzer, Matt Crafton and David Starr were there and I paid attention to what they were doing. Some tracks, you can't read much by watching people, but this one looks like it's pretty easy to learn. I also talked to (fellow ASA driver) Todd Kluever about getting around there and on Saturday before the race weekend starts, my teammate Robbie Pyle and I will go over things. I think that we'll catch on just fine."
WalTom Racing, with Robbie Pyle and rookie Stephen Leicht, are competing full-time with the American Speed Association in 2004. For more information on the team, please visit www.waltomracing.com.