Jason Leffler was running second early in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 225 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., when he made contact with a lap truck, causing sustainable damage to the right-front fender of the No. 18 Dollar General Tundra. The problem compounded one lap later when he overshot his pit stall while making his first scheduled pit stop of the event. After making his way around the 1.5-mile D-Shaped oval and back down pit road for the four-tire stop, the California native had surrendered two laps to the leader when he returned to the track.
The veteran driver and team persevered and just past the halfway point of the race made their way back onto the lead lap. Upon returning to the lead lap, the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) over-the-wall crew made repairs to the right front fender of the Dollar General Tundra, which stabilized the handling of the truck and allowed Leffler to maneuver his way back up to the fifth position in the final stages of the race. Unfortunately, as the field came to the start-finish line for a green-white-checkered finish, low fuel pressure hampered the No. 18 Toyota's restart and by the time it finally accelerated, an eighth-place finish was all the California native could muster.
"It's another top-10 finish, but that's not what we wanted," said Leffler, who has collected six top-10 finishes in nine starts this season. "Our Dollar General Toyota was really good and I have to thank all the guys on this KBM team for giving me a good truck. We had a truck fast enough to win and I just didn't put the whole race together. I was passing a lapped car and dove on the inside of him and he ran me out of real estate. I kind of got loose and got into him and tore the whole fender off of it. I have to thank Dollar General, Toyota, M&M's, Flexco - this was their home race - and Shore Lodge. Be sure to visit DollarGeneral.com on Monday for 10 percent off your purchases."
The Dollar General Tundra took the green flag from the fifth position and by lap 10 had moved into fourth. As Leffler communicated to crew chief Eric Phillips that his truck was just a bit snug, he slowly closed in on the top three trucks. On lap 40, he made his way around Justin Lofton for the third spot and one lap later worked his way around the outside of Joey Coulter for the second position.
Once around Coulter, Leffler dove to the inside of Clay Greenfield's lapped vehicle, but before he was able to complete the pass, got loose and slid up the racetrack. The right front fender of the Dollar General Tundra crinkled when it made contact with Greenfield's left front fender. One lap later, Leffler came down pit road for his regularly scheduled pit stop, but missed his pit stall and had to make his way all the way around the track again before coming back in for service.
By the time the over-the-wall crew quickly reshaped the fender and completed their four-tire stop, Leffler returned to the track scored in the 25th position, two laps down. After pit stops cycled through on lap 60, Leffler got one of his laps back and then he was awarded the "Lucky Dog", when a caution occurred on lap 82. Once back on the lead lap, the Dollar General Racing over-the-wall crew was able to make repairs to the right front fender on the truck and their driver began his march back towards the front of the field.
When the fifth caution of the night occurred on lap 106, the Dollar General Tundra was scored in the 14th position. Leffler brought his Toyota down pit road for four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel and the over-the-wall crew administered a chassis adjustment in an effort to add stability to the rear of his truck.
Leffler was scored in the 13th position for the lap-104 restart and had made his way back into the top 10 when a debris caution slowed the field on lap 136. On the ensuing restart, the veteran driver made his way through the gears quickly and began maneuvering his way towards the front of the field. By lap 143, he had climbed his way into the fifth position, where he remained until the final caution of the race on lap 144.
Under caution, Leffler communicated to crew chief Eric Phillips that the fuel pressure gauge on the Dollar General Tundra had subsided below its normal position. Moments later, the gauge stabilized and Phillips elected to keep his driver on the track as the ensuing green-white-checkered finish approached.
As the field came to the start-finish line and the green flag waved on lap 148, Leffler mashed the gas pedal but his truck was unresponsive. By the time his No. 18 Tundra responded, he had fallen back to the 10th position with just one lap remaining. Before returning to the stripe, the KBM driver was able to regain two positions and ended the night with an adversity-filled, eighth-place finish.
James Buescher came from two laps down early in the race to collect his third Truck Series win of 2012. Brendan Gaughan finished 0.247 seconds behind Buescher in the runner-up spot. Toyota drivers Timothy Peters and Matt Crafton finished third and fourth, respectively, and Parker Kligerman rounded out the top-five finishers.
There were seven caution periods for 31 laps as 11 drivers failed to finish the race.
With Leffler's fifth straight top-10 finish, the No. 18 Tundra team remained 11th in Truck Series Owner's point standings, but moved to within two points of the No. 30 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet, which resides in the 10th position.