Johnny Leonard Survives Winchester; Nets Best Finish Of 2006 Season WINCHESTER, Ind (May 7th, 2006) - - Johnny Leonard, driver of the No. 13 Jack/Cole, Inc. Chevrolet Monte Carlo finished 20th in Sunday's ARCA 200 Presented by Construct Corps,...
Johnny Leonard Survives Winchester; Nets Best Finish Of 2006 Season
WINCHESTER, Ind (May 7th, 2006) - - Johnny Leonard, driver of the No. 13 Jack/Cole, Inc. Chevrolet Monte Carlo finished 20th in Sunday's ARCA 200 Presented by Construct Corps, netting his best finish of the 2006 season and propelling a fair jump in the point standings.
Leonard, a native of Cape Coral, Florida had no prior experience at Winchester Speedway, but after three tough races thus far this season, finishing the fourth event on this year's schedule was the main goal.
In practice, Leonard paced himself around the 0x00bd mile short track garnishing a lap of 17.365 seconds at 103.657 MPH good enough for 28th on the charts "I spent much of practice learning how to get around the track," said Leonard. "The car was best during the final run which allowed us to make the gain in the rundown. We've got a good car; I just don't want to do anything that will put our team behind."
With practice complete, the team began preparing for Pork pole qualifying. A pre-set qualifying goal wasn't set for the former late model driver. All he wanted to do was making the starting lineup. During his time trials effort, he maneuvered his Chevrolet to a time good enough for the 30th position on the starting grid. "Obviously no one wants to start in the back, but we're happy to be in the show and I'm looking forward to a good race."
35 ARCA drivers took the green flag shortly after 2:30pm EST with Leonard getting a quick jump on the rest of the competition. Quickly moving steadily through the pack, Leonard found himself in the top-25 by lap ten. Throughout the first 100 circuits, despite hovering inside the top-25 Leonard's goal remained the same, finish the race.
A rapid pace set by the leaders in the second portion of the race, Leonard continued to thrive and dig. While never becoming a factor for the win, Leonard avoided several close calls (accidents) in front of him. Leonard, who ran his second official race under the Mark Gibson Racing (MGR) banner, was able to avoid the havoc on a green-white-checkered finish crossing the line 20th.
Leonard's run on Sunday was his best effort of 2006. Previously, Leonard had a 27th at Salem Speedway two weeks ago. Thanks to his solid finish in the ARCA 200 Presented by Construct Corps, Leonard unofficially moved up inside the top-25 in national point standings.
"All in all, I'm happy with the finish," commented Leonard following his Winchester debut. "We have some scuffs and marks on the right side of the car, but that's it in the damage department. I really got a rhythm in the later stages of the race and that helped. We could have had a better finish, but we also could have another disastrous finish, I'll take this and we'll head to Kentucky."
The licensed NASCAR driver continued, "Mark (Gibson) and his team did a good job today. The car was good off the trailer and even though I'm no longer considered a rookie, I was one today. Again, all I wanted to do was finish the race and collect the best finish possible. We did that. We met our goals."
Leonard's teammate Ryan Howard who looked strong in practice battled mechanical woes throughout theday losing a motor in the first practice with a driveline failure during the race. He finished 25th.
Next up for the ARCA RE/MAX Series is the Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati 150 from Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, May 13th. Leonard is looking forward to Kentucky since he has a career-best Superspeedway qualifying effort of seventh (July 2005). Practice is set for Friday, May 12th with Pork pole qualifying and the race set for Saturday. The race will not be televised on SPEED, but arcaracing.com will have all the latest news and results from the track.DATE: May 7th, 2006