By Dick Jordan
NASCAR veteran and former USAC Midget and Silver Crown Champion Jason Leffler returns to his roots again Thursday night when the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series makes its first O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis appearance in three years.
Leffler will try to become only the eighth driver in history to accomplish the USAC ORP “Triple Crown,” since he already owns USAC Silver Crown and Midget victories at the storied oval. He will pilot a Keith Kunz Motorsports Beast/Speedway Mopar in the event, the first of two for the USAC Sprint cars at the Indianapolis oval this summer. The series returns to ORP on Thursday night, July 1.
Leffler last competed in a Sprint Car at ORP in 1999 and finished fourth. He earned the last of his three USAC National Midget championships that season. He last competed in a USAC Sprint car in 2003 at the “Turkey Night Grand Prix” in Irwindale, Calif. and finished fifth.
Leffler hopes to join Dave Steele, Mike Bliss, Tony Stewart, Kenny Irwin Jr., Bobby East, Jim Keeker and Bobby Santos III in the exclusive ORP “Triple Crown” club. All have won in all of USAC’s premier series at the .686 mile paved oval. Santos won the last two ORP Sprint races in 2006 and 2007.
Levi Jones of Olney, Ill. leads the current USAC AMSOIL National Sprint standings entering Thursday’s race. He is 42 points ahead of Damion Gardner. Jones won three consecutive races in Pennsylvania and New Jersey last week and fell inches short of winning a fourth straight Friday night at Minersville, Pa.