DEARBORN, Mich., Aug. 18, 2004 - Ben Leslie has been hired on an interim basis to replace Robin Pemberton as the manufacturer's NASCAR field manager, it was announced today by Greg Specht, Racing Operations Manager, Ford Racing Technology. .

Leslie, who served as crew chief for Ricky Rudd on the No. 21 Ford Genuine Parts and Service Taurus for the past year, has a great deal of experience in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, most notably at Roush Racing as crew chief for both Mark Martin and Kurt Busch.

"I'm real excited about this opportunity because it's another aspect of the sport that you don't necessarily see on a day-to-day basis when you're a crew chief," said Leslie. "This job will be different in the sense that I'll be working more closely with Ford and NASCAR on various issues, but it will still be the same as far as having the same goals of winning and contending for championships. The good thing about that is I'll be helping all of the Ford teams try to achieve that instead of just one."

"I'm 100 percent committed to doing everything possible for Ford and to pick up where Robin has left off," he added. "I'm just going to do the best possible job I can, and I'm looking forward to the challenges this job presents."

"We're excited about Ben coming aboard and starting to work with all of our teams," said Specht. "This will certainly be a new challenge for him, especially coming in to the position at this point in the season.

"We're pleased to get someone with Ben's knowledge, background and experience in the sport. He's got the right attitude, and we think he'll fit right in with all of our teams. The great thing about having Ben come aboard is that he's fully aware of where we stand in our NEXTEL Cup program right now, so there won't have to be a huge learning curve in terms of that.

"We want to thank Robin Pemberton for all the great work he has done for us the past 20 months, and look forward to maintaining a great working relationship with him in the future. Robin re-defined the role of Field Manager for us, and his position has evolved the past two years in terms of what we need to get out of someone in that position."

Leslie will start his new position during the week of August 23, after fulfilling his duties as Rudd's crew chief this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.