Leonard Pumped About Daytona Cape Coral, Florida -- Ever since the checkered flag flew at Talladega Superspeedway last fall, there has been one race that Johnny Leonard has been patiently waiting for, Daytona. The ...
Leonard Pumped About Daytona
Cape Coral, Florida -- Ever since the checkered flag flew at Talladega Superspeedway last fall, there has been one race that Johnny Leonard has been patiently waiting for, Daytona.
The driver of the No. 13 Boca Bay Builders/Ft. Myers Marine Pontiac returns to the 2.5-mile Superspeedway this week looking to start off his full-2005 campaign with explosive results in Saturday's Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 from Daytona International Speedway.
"I'm very, very excited about Daytona," said the Cape Coral, Florida native. "We had some good luck at the track last year, but this year, we're expecting a little more."
Leonard has good reason to be excited about Daytona. After solid pre-season testing results in December, the driver feels more confident than ever on a Superspeedway.
"We made a lot of changes to our Pontiac after the December test," mentioned Leonard. Pat Beattie from Leading Edge Racecars worked his behind off giving us a well-balanced machine, and I like the changes he made, we just hope it works well throughout the week.
Last February was my first-time ever on a Superspeedway. We just barely made the show, and we raced to a 15th-place finish. We've got better equipment this season, from the car to the motor, everything is really coming together for our Daytona program, now we just need a little luck."
Leonard's crew chief Bobby Dick echoed his driver's statement. "As a team we are prepared for Daytona, the guys in the shop have been focusing on this race since Talladega. We have put a lot of man hours into making us a serious threat this week, I have a feeling it's all going to work out."
Boca Bay Builders will hold primary sponsorship on Leonard's No. 13 Pontiac Grand Prix for the first of 23 events this season. Founded in 2002, Boca Bay is Southwest Florida's newest premier homebuilder. Their elite group of building executives bring more than 50 years of combined industry knowledge to your home buying experience.
Affordable Roofing joins the team as a major associate sponsor this weekend. Proving to be one of the most respected roofing organizations in southern Florida, Affordable Roofing details your every roofing need at a respectable and affordable rate.
Tex Racing Enterprises will serve as the team's driveline supplier for the event, while AMSOIL joins the team as the official lubricant for the first event of the season. pme engines (Pro-Motor Engineering) is supplying the horsepower under the hood at Daytona.
In addition, Ft. Myers Marine, and Russo's Tinting will serve as associate sponsors this weekend.
"We have a lot of great sponsors affiliated with this team this season," explained Leonard. "Our sponsors mean a lot to this team and if we can go out there and run well, we know we've done our job."
Also, Leonard will carry a special "Thank You Dr. Kagan" aboard his black colored automobile. In October, Dr. John Kagan, one of the best Athletic and Reconstructive Orthopedic Surgeons in the United States did extensive surgery on the former late model driver's knee after he was injured managing his successful Florida business.
"Dr. Kagan is a reason I am able to compete this weekend at Daytona, I owe him a lot," admitted Leonard.
For Saturday's event, Leonard will carry an on-board camera offering the fans at home reality from the cockpit of the No. 13. "It's really cool to have in-car cameras for all 14 live events this season. It's a huge bonus to our sponsors, and we looking forward to giving them a little more publicity, and offering the fans at home a different view."
With a huge entry list expected, Leonard knows he has to be patient in the first practice sessions and save his car for when it counts the most, qualifying.
"I'm going to play it safe, but we have to see how the car is feeling. Bobby (crew chief) and I know what worked well at the test, so we've set our standards a little bit, but we have to keep focused, avoid any trouble that could occur during practice."
"When qualifying rolls around, I would love to start inside the top-twenty. We have to get a good lap, I have to hit all my marks, and not make a mistake. We're running for a championship this season, we can't afford to make any errors that could hurt us in the end."
"Once we qualify, we don't have a happy hour, so our car will be set up for race mode. I just want to stay with the lead draft, lead some laps and be battling for the win at the end of the day."
Usually at the tracks of Daytona and Talladega, the "Big One" is known to occur, but don't let that fool you, Leonard's not afraid. "You can't be thinking when is it going to happen, or if it's going to happen. If it happens, it happens, we'll try to keep out of it the best we can."
Despite it being the first race of the season, Leonard is already looking at the bigger picture. "We're running for the championship. I know it's going to be tough, but if we give it our all, who knows what could happen. We have a good team, lots of experience, good equipment, and good horsepower, the rest is up to the driver, and I'm ready."
The Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 is the first of 23 events on the 2005 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule. Practice begins Thursday, February 10th. with a morning and afternoon session planned. Qualifying is on tap for Friday, February 11th, with the race set to take the green flag Saturday February 12th. The Speed Channel will air the event live from Johnny's on-board camera beginning at 4:00pm EST.