Leffler posts eighth-place finish at Kentucky
Jason Leffler earned his third straight top-10 finish behind the wheel of the No. 18 Dollar General Tundra, battling his way to an eighth-place result in Thursday night's UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. After running around the 10th spot for most of the race, crew chief Eric Phillips called for a two-tire stop with just under fifty laps remaining, moving his veteran driver up to the third position. The race - which featured five cautions over the first 76 laps - proceeded caution free for the final 36 laps, allowing a number of drivers with four fresh tires to eventually make their way around the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) Toyota before the checkered flag dropped.
"It was a battle for us -- the Dollar General Tundra was a handful all night, but the guys did a good job battling," said Leffler who picked up his third top-10 finish in as many starts in Truck Series races at Kentucky. "Took two tires and tried to get track position and ended up gaining a few spots at the end. It was another top-10 finish, so everyone can go to DollarGeneral.com on Monday and get 10% off their online purchases. Have to thank everyone involved -- Dollar General, Toyota, Flexco, M&M's and Shore Lodge. This finish isn't what anybody on this team wanted, not what I wanted, we are here to win races -- so we're ready to go to Iowa where we will do everything we can to try and get our first win this year."
After fine tuning the Dollar General Tundra in the first practice session, Leffler posted the fourth fastest lap in final practice. In qualifying, he drove what he described as "a loose-handling" Tundra to the 18th starting spot for the 150-lap race.
Leffler advanced to the 11th position by lap two and remained just outside of the top 10 in the early portions of the race as he communicated to crew chief Eric Phillips that his Toyota had "no grip." The veteran crew chief made an air pressure adjustment during a four-tire stop under caution on lap 63 in an effort to provide more stability for his driver.
The California native was scored in the 10th position when the race restarted on lap 67. As the race approached the 50-to-go mark, he communicated to Phillips that the adjustment hadn't helped the Dollar General Tundra and his truck was still ill-handling.
After a one-car accident in Turn 4 brought out the sixth caution of the night, Phillips called for a two-tire stop in an effort to improve Leffler's track position as the race approached its final stages. The move paid immediate dividends as the No. 18 Toyota was scored in the third position for the lap-108 restart.
Leffler maintained the third spot until a three-car incident slowed the field again four laps later. On the ensuing restart, Leffler dropped to the fifth position on lap 115 and as the race remained caution free to the finish, eventually surrendered two more spots.
James Buescher became the first repeat winner in the Truck Series this year after seven different drivers visited Victory Lane in as many races. Buescher finished 3.805 seconds ahead of NASAR Sprint Cup Series regular and Truck Series owner Brad Keselowski. Ty Dillon, Matt Crafton and Timothy Peters rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were seven caution periods for 31 laps. 10 drivers failed to finish the race.
The No. 18 Tundra team gained another spot in the Truck Series owner's point standings scoring its fourth top-10 finish in eight races and third over the last four. The team currently resides in the 14th position, 80 points behind the series-leading No. 17 Toyota of Red Horse Racing.
Leffler will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Tundra, with primary sponsorship from Shore Lodge, when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action July 14 at Iowa Speedway in Newton. The American Ethanol 200 begins at 8 p.m. ET, with live coverage provided by SPEED commencing with the NCWTS Setup Show at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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