Leffler Hopes to Sink SpongeBob Movie 300 Foes
¿I¿m always excited about getting to race at Charlotte,¿ said the 29-year-old Leffler. ¿Plus our shop is right across the street from the track on Hudspeth Road, so all the people that normally don¿t travel with us get to go. Everyone on our team is looking forward to this race.
¿We had a really good car here in May, led a lot of laps and had a chance to win until we got off on our pit strategy at the end. I¿m very excited about the race, and I really feel like we¿re going to be one of the cars to beat.¿
Leffler, who came to stock car racing from the USAC midget, sprint car and Silver Crown ranks, loves competing at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway even though he says the 1.5-mile oval is one of the circuit¿s most difficult tracks.
¿It is a tough track but that¿s what makes it so fun and challenging,¿ he explained. ¿It¿s a track that¿s got a lot of character.¿
After bouncing around from NEXTEL Cup to the Craftsman Truck Series, Leffler appears to have found a home in the NASCAR Busch Series behind the wheel of the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet owned by Gene Haas.
¿I¿d much rather be competitive in the Busch Series like we are now than be in the way in NEXTEL Cup,¿ Leffler acknowledged. ¿It¿s been great so far and I see only good things for this team in the future.¿
Leffler believes one of the team¿s biggest assets is veteran crew chief Robert ¿Bootie¿ Barker who came onboard with three races remaining last season.
¿That really gave us a ton of momentum to take into the winter,¿ noted Leffler. ¿It has been absolutely great having Bootie around because he knows exactly what he¿s doing as a crew chief. We get along great and communicate very well. That man works as hard as anybody I¿ve ever seen to get every little bit out of these cars.
¿Bootie knows what to do to a race car and I think that¿s why we¿ve hit it off so well. We speak the same language when it comes to racing,¿ Leffler continued. ¿If I describe how the car is handling, Bootie knows what I¿m talking about and how to fix it. I haven't had a problem yet that he wasn¿t capable of fixing.
¿I had a choice in who my crew chief was going to be. A lot of advice was given to us by Hendrick Motorsports who knew Bootie was the best in the business. We¿re affiliated with Rick Hendrick and his teams because we get our engines and chassis from them,¿ Leffler added. ¿Adding Bootie to the mix seemed like the perfect fit and I ended up getting the guy I truly wanted.
¿Getting back to the affiliation with Hendrick Motorsports, not only do we get our chassis and engines from them, they give us a ton of engineering help. I really don¿t think we¿d be as successful as we¿ve been this season without the help of Hendrick Motorsports. They really help us a lot since we are kind of a new team that was built late last year. They have provided us with a lot of horsepower and engineering that has helped get this team off the ground and into championship contention.¿
Leffler is third in the Busch Series standings and even though he is a sizable distance behind Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch, he¿s not about to concede the title.
¿I¿m a little ways back, but anything can happen,¿ he said. ¿I¿m sure not giving up. We¿re just going to keep digging, running as strong as we¿ve been running and then we¿ll see what happens. In July, we set the goal of finishing third in the Busch Series points and we were sitting 20th. Now our goal is the championship and giving it our all in these final races.
¿Winning the Busch Series title would mean a lot and would be a great accomplishment for Bootie, myself and everybody on this team. To be honest, sitting third in points is a huge accomplishment when you consider we¿ve rallied so strongly. I know those guys (Truex Jr. and Busch) have a lot of resources behind them, but so do we.¿
Leffler recorded his first career Busch Series victory in June at Nashville Superspeedway and a second win in the Lowe¿s presents The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 would be special.
¿It would mean a lot to us as a race team since we are located so close to the track,¿ Leffler said. ¿When I think of winning at Charlotte, I think about the track¿s history. It really is the home track for all the teams so winning here would mean a ton to me and it would make every single person on this team extremely happy.¿
Tickets for the Lowe¿s presents The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 on Friday night, Oct. 15, start at just $17 and can be purchased by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.