Invading Illinois with his Prairie-State Posse

Jason Leffler and the No. 18 Dollar General Racing team head to Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. for Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 225. Spearheading Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) efforts atop the pit box - as they have since the team's inception in 2010 - will be a pair of Illinois natives, general manager Rick Ren and crew chief Eric Phillips.


With 27 career victories, Ren - who hails from Tilton, Ill., - is the winningest crew chief in Truck Series history. Phillips - a native of Canton, Ill. - has called the shots for 26 wins in his career, leaving him one win shy of moving into a tie with his boss atop the charts. Since KBM owner Kyle Busch hand-picked the duo to lead his Truck Series operation when it originated in 2010, the No. 18 Tundra team has visited Victory Lane 16 times and became the first team since NASCAR's third division originated in 1995 to capture an owner's championship in its inaugural season.


After an unusually rough start to the 2012 season, the Dollar General Racing team seems to finally be hitting its stride. Four races into its third campaign, the team had collected just one top-10 finish, failed to finish two races and found themselves ranked 24th in the Truck Series Owner's point standings. Behind four straight top-10 finishes from Leffler, and a 13th-place finish from Brian Scott in his KBM debut, the team has catapulted to 11th in the point standings with nine races completed.


While he will be making his first start in a truck at Chicagoland, Leffler has found the 1.5-mile D-Shaped oval to be one of his most productive tracks in NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) competition. The veteran driver posted three straight top-five finishes from July of 2009 to June of 2011 and over nine career NNS starts has registered four top-10 results.



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Steven B. Wilson

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