Pocono II: Stephen Leicht race report

Promising Day for Leicht's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Debut LONG POND, Pa. (July 23, 2006) -- Stephen Leicht, driver of the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford, finished 33rd in his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut at Pocono Raceway, despite only running 16 laps...

Promising Day for Leicht's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Debut

LONG POND, Pa. (July 23, 2006) -- Stephen Leicht, driver of the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford, finished 33rd in his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut at Pocono Raceway, despite only running 16 laps of practice on Friday. Leicht qualified in the 36th position and completed all but one lap of the two hundred lap event. Leicht fought a tight handling car for much of the race but his goals for the weekend were accomplished.

"It was a learning experience today," said Leicht. "Our goal for the weekend was to make the race and to run all of the laps. We made the race, but the rain on Saturday really hurt us because we did not get a chance to go out in race trim. We basically looked back at Robert Yates Racing's notes from the past and went from there.

"I feel like I did the best I could for my first time. It's hard to get a handle and have any expectations when you only get 16 laps of practice at a track you're not familiar with and in a series this big. These guys run hard every lap and it's definitely the most competitive racing I've ever been in. I feel like moving forward, if I were to come back here and race again tomorrow, I'd be that much better.

"I'm proud of the guys. Every time I came in for a pit stop we gained spots. We never lost a spot on pit road. They did an awesome job and I want to thank our sponsor for this race -- CitiFinancial. It was a great team effort."

Denny Hamlin scored his second-consecutive NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Pocono Raceway. Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers and Kevin Harvick completed the top five.

The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will enjoy next weekend off. Leicht will be back behind the wheel of the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford as the NASCAR Busch Series visit's Gateway International Speedway. The Gateway 200 gets underway Saturday, July 29th at 8 p.m. ET. TNT and MRN will have live coverage of the event.

-ryr

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Series NASCAR-CUP