By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
FONTANA, Calif. - Don't blame Jason Leffler for feeling there's still a huge upside for his Turner Motorsports team.
"I think we feel like we haven't reached our potential yet," said Leffler, who finished 11th in Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway and is second in the standings through five races.
Leffler and his team benefit from a rule change that limits drivers from competing for more than one series championship. For the past five seasons, full-time Sprint Cup drivers have claimed the Nationwide title: Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.
Though Cup drivers are welcome to race in the Nationwide Series, they no longer can accumulate points in the series if the elect to run for the Cup championship.
Leffler is battling for the points lead despite a change in team ownership, a change in manufacturer and a change in the generation of cars run in the series this year. Steve Turner bought the race team from Todd Braun and switched from Toyota to Chevrolet.
Nevertheless, Leffler says the transition was a smooth one.
"It was real seamless," he said. "We had to build new cars anyway, because it's a new-generation racecar. I think Steve wanted new parts and pieces. I say it's seamless, but the guys at the shop have been working overtime. They've been busting their butts. It still takes man-hours to build these things, and every new car that comes out is a little bit better, a little bit nicer, a little bit lighter."
Despite the progress, a Nationwide regular hasn't won a race in the series since Justin Allgaier triumphed at Bristol in March 2010. (Boris Said, a road-course specialist, won at Montreal in August for RAB Racing's Nationwide-only team.)
"We're really close," said Leffler, who gave Toyota its first victory in the series at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis but hasn't won since. "That's one big factor in years past-maybe on a good day we could run third or fourth.
"Obviously, right now Kyle Busch is in a league of his own. His car is really fast. But we're working really hard at the shop. We have the equipment now, and we just need a little time and a little more testing and things, and we'll be able to compete with them and see some Nationwide regulars get back to victory lane."