FedEx to sponsor third Gibbs car for Leffler

by Pete McCole

October 13, 2004

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Jason Leffler and his new ride

Joe Gibbs Racing announced today they will field a third team with driver Jason Leffler for the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season with sponsorship from FedEx Corp.

Leffler will join 2000 Nextel Cup Champion Bobby Labonte and 2002 Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart in the JGR stable. JGR also fields cars in the NASCAR Busch Series for drivers Mike Bliss and J.J. Yeley. Dave Rogers, who served as race engineer for Tony Stewart’s car from 1999-2004, will serve as Leffler’s crew chief on the No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet.

The partnership brings together the Gibbs name and FedEx for a second time. JGR owner Joe Gibbs, a three-time Super Bowl-winning coach and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, coaches the Washington Redskins at FedExField in Landover, Md.

“Obviously, this couldn't have been more appropriate for JGR.  FedEx and I enjoy a strong relationship with the Redskins, and I am excited to extend that winning relationship to NASCAR,” Gibbs said. “FedEx is one of the most admired and recognizable companies in the world, and I’m happy to have such a renowned addition to the team.”

“Our relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing in America’s fastest growing sport is a strategic fit for the FedEx brand and a strong extension of our sponsorship portfolio,” said T. Michael Glenn, executive vice president of FedEx Corp. “Success on the track depends on reliability, precision, teamwork and speed, and our employees and contractors deliver those values to our customers every day.”

Leffler, 29, from Long Beach, Calif., has competed in all three of NASCAR’s top divisions, including 27 starts this season in the NASCAR Busch Series. He has also competed in the Indianapolis 500 and the USAC National Midget Series, where he won three consecutive titles from 1997-1999.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to drive for FedEx and Joe Gibbs Racing,” Leffler said. “I look forward to representing a great company like FedEx. JGR is one of the best teams in the business, so I’m looking forward to a great season in 2005.”

Rumors of Leffler’s imminent appointment to JGR were so rampant that his Busch Series car owner, Gene Haas, released him last week from his ride despite Leffler’s third place standing in the Busch Series points. Leffler’s lawyers sought an injunction to keep him in the car, but in the end Haas won out.

This will be Leffler’s second stint with JGR, having competed in a Busch Series ride for the team in 1999 and 2000 making 35 starts. JGR had planned to move Leffler up to the Cup division after a few more seasons in the Busch Series, but instead Leffler jumped ship and took a ride with Chip Ganassi’s Cup operation for the 2001 season.

After a dismal season posting just one top 10 finish, Leffler was released by the team and returned to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Busch Series.

“When I left (JGR), it was a mistake,” Leffler said. “I’m just grateful to be back here at Joe Gibbs. It’s incredible. Their commitment to win is second to none.”

The team will begin testing following the conclusion of the NASCAR Nextel Cup season on Nov. 21, looking to make their debut in the 2005 Gatorade Twin 125’s in February.

The author can be contacted petem@autoracing1.com

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