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Leffler Earns Pole With One Lap

July 13, 2002

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SPARTA, Ky. (AP) _ One lap was all Jason Leffler needed to earn the pole for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Kroger 225 at Kentucky Speedway.

The 26-year-old veteran of the Winston Cup and Busch series won his sixth pole of the trucks season with a lap of 168.303 mph in his Team ASE Racing Dodge on Friday night. Winless in 10 starts this year, Leffler tied Stacy Compton’s 1999 record for the most poles in a season without a victory.

Leffler nearly lost control of the truck early in his second lap and steered it into the pits.

``I overdrove it in turns one and two pretty bad, and it cost us some time there,″ Leffler said.

He doubted the first lap was going to hold up, but it did, as none of the 19 drivers who followed him came close to beating his time.

``The Dodge has been pretty quick in qualifying all season long,″ said Leffler, who has two second-place finishes and five top-fives this year. ``I can count on this team to give me a fast truck week in and week out, and that helps me focus on what I need to do come race time.″

Mike Bliss, sporting a broken nose suffered in a pickup softball game on Thursday, qualified second in his IWX Motor Freight Chevy with a fast lap of 166.323 mph.

Bliss, second in the season points standings, crashed into an outfield wall trying to field a fly ball in the game at Northern Kentucky University between truck teams and the ESPN television crew here to cover the race. He was briefly hospitalized and needed four stitches to seal a gash on his forehead.

``The stitches are right where the helmet hits me on the forehead, but it’s nothing major to complain about,″ Bliss said after qualifying.

Bill Lester earned his second straight No. 3 starting spot with a fast lap of 166.986 mph in his Dodge Motorsports truck. Lester started third in Kansas City last week, but got tangled in an early wreck and finished 29th.

Terry Cook, who won at Milwaukee two weeks ago, Chris Horn, David Starr, Coy Gibbs, Carl Edwards, Brandon Gaughan and Matt Crafton rounded out the top 10 qualifiers in the 36-truck field.

Season points leader Ted Musgrave was the fourth truck out for qualifying and had to avoid a patch of oil left by an earlier truck. He qualified 14th with a fast lap of 164.419.

``It’s always the luck of the draw for qualifying,″ said Musgrave, a two-time winner this year. ``The first guys who went out suffered pretty badly from that. As time went on, it got better, but we were just the first ones to run through the oil.″

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