Engine Failure Seizes Career Day For Leonard At Pocono Long Pond, Pennsylvania - - After qualifying a season best 16th Saturday morning from Pocono Raceway 2005 ARCA RE/MAX Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Johnny Leonard and the entire...
Engine Failure Seizes Career Day For Leonard At Pocono
Long Pond, Pennsylvania - - After qualifying a season best 16th Saturday morning from Pocono Raceway 2005 ARCA RE/MAX Series Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Johnny Leonard and the entire Boca Bay Racing team were excited about the strong possibilities of capturing their first top-ten finish of the season.
Leonard, who never seen the track before Friday morning quickly adapted to the 2.5 tri-oval and some had set their eyes on the No. 13 as a serious sleeper for the 80 lap/200 mile event.
With rain in the area, the start of the ARCA 200 was pushed up with 40 drivers starting their engines just after 3:00pm. With crew chief Ted Kennedy at the team's control, owner Rick Woodard on the pit box and spotter Tony Micale high above, the rest of the BBR crew was ready to go.
With the green flag thrown, Johnny Leonard quickly began his march towards the front. Driving a new Chevrolet Monte Carlo purchased from Braun Racing in association with Dale Earnhardt, Inc, the Cape Coral, Florida driver was on a mission. A mission to get to the front and stay there.
By lap twenty Leonard had muscled his Boca Bay Builders machine into the top-ten. Continuing to race towards the top-five, Leonard was forced to join the other leaders and make a green flag pit stop closing in on lap 35. The Boca Bay Racing crew positioned four new Hoosier tires and added Sunoco racing fuel, sending the former late model driver on his way.
The first caution flag of the day waived ten laps later for a stalled vehicle, with Leonard sitting in eighth. On the restart, Leonard got a great jump on the rest of the pack and continued to pull away when the unthinkable occurred on lap 45 when the motor underneath the team's best car of the season foiled leaving the team with a disappointing and frustrating 29th place finish.
"We had a great car," said the driver. "Man, it was the best car of my career. The car was awesome, everything was going our way, and then the engine blew. There were no signs of it going, I just went down the backstretch and she exploded. It's a shame because we definitely had a car good enough to score a top-five."
Leonard added, "I just want to thank all of our sponsors for their support. Boca Bay Builders, Affordable Roofing, FansCrew.com, Russo's Tinting, and AMSOIL. We're gonna get better that's a promise."
Partner Rick Woodard wasn't discouraged by the finish, but encouraged by the performance. "Everyone knew that we were here. We ran up front, Johnny drove a great race; we just had the wrong results. We're heading to Michigan next week with the sister car to the one we had this weekend and we'll have a new motor, we'll be ready to go and prove this weekend's performance was no fluke."
Next up for the ARCA RE/MAX Series is the two-mile oval of Michigan International Speedway. Leonard has success at the Irish Hills based track. Last year, Johnny scored his career best finish (12th) after starting 13th. The team will look to improve on that performance and start and finish in the top-ten.