From Dick Jordan, photo courtesy of NASCAR
Jason Leffler of Long Beach, Calif. has joined the field for the upcoming November 12 “Copper World Classic” USAC K & N Silver Crown race at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. The race will be his 50th in the series, having made his debut in 1994.
The November 12 “Copper World Classic” features both the Silver Crown and USAC Mopar National and Western Midget Car Series. A 100-mile race is on tap for the Silver Crown cars and a 25-miler is slated for the Midgets. The events are part of PIR’s big Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR weekend.
Leffler, USAC’s 1998 Silver Crown Champion, last competed in the series in the 2007 “Copper World Classic,” posting a 19th place finish after tangling with another car on the backstretch. That was in USAC’s “new generation” pavement car, which is currently undergoing redesign. His last start in the “traditional” cars, which will be racing at PIR this year, was in 2005 at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Ind. where he won the pole and finished second to Bobby East.
Leffler will pilot the Great Clips/Team ASE Beast/Chevy entered by Bob East, Bobby’s father and Jason’s father-in-law. The diminutive Leffler has been to PIR’s victory lane, winning the Midget race in 1999 and the Silver Crown feature in 2000.
In Phoenix testing a Western Speed Racing Midget he also plans to run in the “Copper World” event, Leffler reflected on his past success. “It’s always fun racing at Phoenix,” he says. “It’s a great track, even though it’s an odd-ball with very different corners. The Silver Crown cars are awesome to drive and I’m looking forward to the 100 mile race. A lot of the success in these cars depends on the driver and I’m pretty excited about this race. I’m pretty confident after the testing I’ve done but I’m sure we’ll all be trying to find a way to beat Bobby (East) since he was so fast here last year.”
Jason owns six Silver Crown wins and seven other podium finishes in his 49 career starts. He’s also won 18 times in the USAC National Midget Series, where he claimed championships in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He currently ranks fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with victories in 2004 and 2007 and 19 top-10s already this season.
At Phoenix he’ll face formidable competition in the USAC Silver Crown cars. Bud Kaeding of Campbell, Calif. is the point leader, headed for a record-tying third series crown. Other pre-entries include former series champions Jerry Coons Jr. and Tracy Hines, plus the Carl Edwards/RE Technologies Team of Josh Wise and Cameron Dodson. Dodson finished second to East in last year’s “Copper World Classic” and has made a remarkable recovery from an off-season automobile accident to post a victory this year at Iowa Speedway.
Other top candidates for a victory at Phoenix are 2009 USAC Silver Crown race winners Bobby Santos III, Brian Tyler, Cole Whitt and Shane Hollingsworth.