Johnny Leonard Anxious For Salem SALEM, Indiana (April 20, 2006) - - There's no doubt that the 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series season has gotten off to a rocky start for Cape Coral, Florida's Johnny Leonard. However, he hopes to change that as the ARCA...
Johnny Leonard Anxious For Salem
SALEM, Indiana (April 20, 2006) - - There's no doubt that the 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series season has gotten off to a rocky start for Cape Coral, Florida's Johnny Leonard. However, he hopes to change that as the ARCA tour invades the bullring of Salem Speedway for Sunday's Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 by Federated Auto Parts.
"We're kind of having the start of the season that we had last year," said the driver of the No. 13 Chevrolet, Johnny Leonard. "We had a good car at Daytona and ended up in the garage. Nashville was a weekend we would like to forget. But we're heading to Salem this weekend, looking to change it all around."
Leonard competed in both Salem events last season posting a 14th place finish in the spring and crossing the line 12th in the fall event. This year, Leonard hopes to improve by at least two positions and grab his first top-ten finish of the 2006 season. "Last year finishes were solid," he recalled. "We didn't have the best car in the spring, but we survived. In the fall, we were running in the top ten and had some problems in the pits and it cost us big. This year, I don't want anything bad to happen, I just want a good finish."
In the first "official" race controlled by Mark Gibson Racing, the team will unload a new car to their stable purchased earlier this year from fellow ARCA team Vision Racing (No. 37 Chevrolet). "We were offered a really good deal to purchase this car and Mark really liked it, so we bought it. Mark says we're going to have a good racecar, so I'm pumped."
Last April, Leonard qualified 23rd (18.143 seconds, 109.133 MPH) and wasn't happy. This year, Johnny is thinking outside the box. "You know, I would love to score a Pork Pole this season. It's very crucial to start as close to the leaders as possible. If I'm on the pole, everyone is chasing me. If we can't grab the pole, I'll settle with a top-ten qualifying effort."
Guiding the successful entrepreneur from up above this weekend will be Leonard's Public Relations Representative Chris Knight. "People may be laughing, but I'm excited about having Chris spot for me this weekend. He spotted last year in several races for a couple different drivers and I heard he did a great job. Hopefully Slinky (Knight's racing nickname) can keep me out of trouble and we'll have a good day."
The No. 13 Jack/Cole Inc team is still seeking a title sponsor for this weekend's race, but the team will continue to press forward with or without the additional backing. "We're still looking for some help," added Leonard. "We have some good cars, some really good motors, but any marketing partnership assistance would help us become a championship caliber operation."
Despite no primary sponsorship for the event, the team is excited to have pme (Pro Motor Engineering), Leading Edge Racecars, Tex Racing Enterprises and Catchfence.com as associate sponsors for the first of two events at Salem Speedway this season.
"We have a lot of supporters and that's awesome," continued Leonard. "I appreciate all the people and companies who do everything in their power to get us to the track. Hopefully we can turn our season around this weekend and prove to everyone we really have what it takes to run upfront."
Salem will also mark the second race of the season where Johnny will work with new teammate Ryan Howard from Mark Gibson Racing. MGR and JCI will work together for the remainder of the season. "Mark Gibson really came to our aid last weekend and we couldn't have done it without him. Ryan was really awesome to talk with and we connect really well. I mean how cool it to work with one of the most likeable and experienced veterans (Mark) in the sport and an upcoming driver like Ryan. You really couldn't ask for much more. Again, this is the best thing that has happened to Jack/Cole Inc. so far this season."
Rolling into Salem, Leonard, a former Florida late model driver has 35 ARCA RE/MAX Series starts to his resume with a career best finish of ninth at Nashville Superspeedway (August 2005) while holding two additional top ten finishes at Pocono International Raceway (July 2005) and Toledo Speedway (September 2005). He also has a career best Superspeedway qualifying effort of seventh at Kentucky Speedway (July 2005) followed by a career best short track time trials effort of eighth at Lake Erie Speedway (August 2005).
Jack/Cole, Inc. is still actively seeking additional sponsorship for the No. 13 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Interested parties can contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-458-4968.
The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 by Federated Auto Parts (110 miles/200 laps) is the third of 23 events on the 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule. Practice begins Saturday, April 22nd, with a one hour-thirty minute (11:30pm-1:00pm EST) session planned. Pork pole qualifying is also on tap for Saturday (2:30pm EST) with the race set to take the green flag Sunday, April 23rd. The race will not be televised on SPEED, but arcaracing.com will have all the latest news and results from the track.