Leighton made his career debut at New Hampshire in May 1997, running the #5 Chevy owned by Terry Labonte. He started the race in 30th and only managed to move to 27th by the end of the day after a late crash. However, Leighton did lead one lap-an impressive stat in his first career start.
In 1999, Leighton made four more starts, all for BACE Motorsports. In his season debut, he finished 34th at Nazareth despite fatigue. He was last at Watkins Glen due to transmission failure, 37th at Milwaukee and 36th at IRP. Not only was Milwaukee the only race he finished in 1999, but the site of his best career start. He started that race 23rd.
Leighton's poor results, however, lead to his lack of a ride for 2000 and he has not raced since.