News & Media


With benefit of experience, Leffler now seeks win

August 24, 2011, Jill Erwin, NASCAR.com

Jason Leffler doesn't hide the fact he's been around the block a time or two in the Nationwide Series. But there are certain benefits that come from experience.

First, he's become like the guidance counselor for Turner Motorsports. Need to know where something is? Ask Leffler. Want to find out who's in charge of payroll? Ask Leffler.

"So we can win a race, or a couple races, and then we can call this year a success."

--JASON LEFFLER

"I've seen a lot of things happen with this race team, so I'm kind of the guy they come to and say, 'Hey, this happened.' And I say, 'OK, you need to go talk to this person,' " Leffler said with a laugh.

But beyond just having seen plenty within his own race team, Leffler has seen a lot on the track. He has started 211 consecutive races, the current longest streak in the Series. He took on that mantle when Carl Edwards opted to stay in Sonoma and work on his Cup car rather than travel to Road America for the Nationwide race.

The past 24 of those races have combined to put Leffler sixth in points with 11 races left in the season. So is he proud to be the guy who shows up week to week?

"It just means I've been doing it too long," Leffler said. "We're steady, but I guess if I had more wins ... I just want to win a race. I haven't won a race in so long ... as a race car driver in the Nationwide Series, you make good money, but at the same time, you're a race car driver because you want to win. That's the main goal.

"We're steady. We're right there. But until we get back to Victory Lane, I'm really hungry and kind of aggravated."

This may not the weekend for him to relax. He heads into Bristol with a career average finish of 16.2 with three DNFs in 16 career starts at the World's Fastest Half-Mile. He's already looking ahead to Atlanta, a race with which he shares a sponsor.

He says Atlanta is one of his favorite tracks, and that's one he's circled on his calendar as the place to break what would then be a 143-race winless streak; his last victory came at what was then called Indianapolis Raceway Park in July 2007.


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bristol, we want you to upload your photos with captions of your stories from the days and nights at the World's Fastest Half-Mile.

"Atlanta's one of my favorite race tracks," Leffler said. "It's a driver's track; you're always sliding around, there's multi-grooves of racing and it always puts on a good race."

Leffler has had plenty of good runs this season; they just haven't always ended up as good finishes. He's well on his way to his fifth consecutive season finishing in the top 10 in the points. But consistency has not been his strongest suit so far in 2011.

He's not mathematically eliminated from the championship hunt -- 95 points behind leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and 86 back from teammate Reed Sorenson in third -- but he also knows the odds are stacked against him.

" We're pretty far out," Leffler said. "My goal right now is to get back to the top five, top four in points. Getting back to Victory Lane is the biggest goal. So we can win a race, or a couple races, and then we can call this year a success."

It all comes back to winning for Leffler, an 11-year veteran of the series. But that's not to say he doesn't have his fun side. Leffler engaged in a war of words -- and inches -- with teammate Justin Allgaier's wife, Ashley, on Twitter last month. The two debated if Justin was taller than the admittedly 5-3 Leffler. Not counting Leffler's well-known Mohawk, the youngster just might have the edge.

"Justin, I found out via Twitter he lies about his height," Leffler said. "I think Justin's probably a little taller than me. I think we measured it out one day. It's not two inches. I'm 5-3, and he might be 5-4."

The dynamic between the three drivers is a playful, yet competitive one. They enjoy each other -- Leffler calls them the best teammates he's had -- but they also want to beat each other, without a doubt.

"It seems like we all get along really well," Leffler said. "At the same time, we're all really competitive. It's a good dynamic. To be honest, we probably communicate more than our crew chiefs communicate."

Leffler's just hoping at some point this season his final communication of a race weekend comes from Victory Lane.

"We can win on any given weekend; we've just got to put a clean race together," Leffler said. "Whereas at the beginning of the year, we didn't have a lot of speed but we were able to put some really good races together, about May we made our cars a lot better and we've had a hard time putting races together. Once we do that, we'll have a chance to win some more races."