Leffler fired after failing to finish in top 10 this year

Updated: August 8, 2005, 7:10 PM ET
Associated Press

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Jason Leffler was fired Monday as driver for the No. 11 Chevrolet at Joe Gibbs Racing. The team will use a combination of drivers to replace him for the final 15 races of the season.

Two-time NASCAR champion Terry Labonte will drive the car this weekend at Watkins Glen International. Busch Series drivers J.J. Yeley and Denny Hamlin will also drive in several events this season.

"This was a difficult decision," said J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR. "Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing had high hopes for Jason and the No. 11 team, but our performance wasn't meeting the expectations all of us set forth at the beginning of the year.

"It hasn't been for lack of effort, as Jason is a talented race car driver who worked incredibly hard and was terrific with our sponsor."

Leffler, a former sprint car champion, started his NASCAR career at JGR in the Busch Series. But he left in 2001 when Chip Ganassi Racing offered him a Cup ride. That lasted just one season, and Leffler drove in both the Busch and Truck Series until JGR hired him back for this year.

But in 19 races, he doesn't have a single top 10 finish and is 35th in the points.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press