Shelbyville Daily Union

June 14, 2013

Leffler dies in dirt, Johnson Wins Pocono

Goggles Paisano
Shelbyville Daily Union

---- — NASCAR driver Jason Leffler died after an accident Wednesday night in a heat race at a dirt car event at Bridgeport Speedway.

After losing his NASCAR ride, Leffler had been racing dirt car events most of this year, including the 410 Sprint Car race Wednesday on the 0.625-mile, high-banked dirt oval.

Leffler made 423 starts in NASCAR’s three national series, winning two Nationwide races and one Truck Series event in a career that began in 1999. He also made three IndyCar Series starts, finishing 17th in the 2000 Indianapolis 500.

Leffler’s last full NASCAR season was 2011, when he ran the entire Nationwide schedule for Turner Motorsports. He finished sixth in the standings that season and hadn’t had a steady NASCAR ride since. Recently, Leffler did fill in at Poconos last weekend as a start and park.

Leffler, originally from Long Beach, CA, is survived by 5-year-old son Charlie Dean.

Johnson Dominates Pocono 400

Jimmie Johnson left no doubt that he is on a quest to become 6-time, leading 128 of the 160 laps at Pocono Raceway this past weekend. Johnson would win his third race of the season and leads the point standings by more than a full race over Carl Edwards.

Johnson and Edwards would start on the front row, after rain washed away qualifying and the field was set by point standings. Edwards led the first lap but it took Johnson only 10 laps to take over the point. From there he held onto the top spot through a couple cycles of green flag stops during a relatively tame first 100 laps that saw only one caution for debris.

There would be six cautions in the later part of the race. The final caution flew with just four laps to go. Unlike last week, Johnson controlled the start and pulled away immediately from Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart, who battled it out for second place.

Biffle won the battle for second with Earnhardt and Stewart finishing third and fourth. Ryan Newman came home fifth..

Kyle Busch finished sixth with brother Kurt just behind in seventh. Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano rounded out the top ten.

This was Johnson’s first win in at the track since 2004. In the post race news conference, Johnson added to the speculation that he may skip the final race before the race depending on his wife’s pregnancy.

Michigan on deck

NASCAR returns to motor city this week. Michigan is a track that many times comes down to fuel mileage and engine durability. Dale Earnhardt broke his long losing streak last year by finding victory lane. I expect him to contend again, but am going with Greg Biffle, who finished second last week and just in time before heading to Michigan, one of his best tracks. For a sleeper, don’t be surprised if Kurt Busch runs well. Busch has been strong lately and has two wins at the 2 mile track.