Johnny Leonard Looking For More In Kentucky SPARTA, Kentucky (Thursday, May 11, 2006) - - After securing his best finish of 20th at Winchester Speedway last weekend, Cape Coral, Florida native Johnny Leonard is excited to return to the bigger...
Johnny Leonard Looking For More In Kentucky
SPARTA, Kentucky (Thursday, May 11, 2006) - - After securing his best finish of 20th at Winchester Speedway last weekend, Cape Coral, Florida native Johnny Leonard is excited to return to the bigger tracks, especially this weekend at Kentucky Speedway for the Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati 150.
Last season, Leonard notched his career best qualifying effort of seventh in the summer event while flourishing to what was then a career best finish of 11th. While the summer race went well, the spring race was one that Leonard called one of his most misfortunate races of 2005.
In practice, Leonard who was driving a car purchased from Murtco Motorsports (Keith Murt, No. 19 Chevrolet) notched the ninth fastest lap (32.797 MPH, 164.649 MPH) In qualifying; Leonard nailed a lap of 32.420 seconds at 166.564 MPH good enough for 20th on the starting grid.
With his then-best start of the 2005 season, the entire team was looking forward to the race. The unthinkable occurred at the start of the race when outside pole sitter Stuart Kirby spun his tire forcing a complete 360 degree-turn sending the entire field for cover with Leonard towards the outside wall. Another competitor had the same intent as Leonard and collided causing severe damage to both cars. Despite the misfortune, the team was down but not out. They no longer had a car to contend for the win, but garnished enough momentum to propel them to a respectable 24th place finish.
"Last year at Kentucky was full of a lot of emotions," recalled Leonard. "We had a good car and it was all gone before I even crossed the start-finish line. Things happen for a reason, hopefully this weekend the luck will be on our side and we'll score our first top-ten finish of the season."
Winchester marks the third race for Jack/Cole, Inc. running entirely under the Mark Gibson Racing (MGR) banner. Last weekend, the duo earned their best finish together. Earlier this season at Salem Speedway Leonard turned the controls over to veteran owner and race winner Mark Gibson to guide his No. 13 Chevrolet in the right direction.
"I think we've come a long way in a very short amount of time," continued Leonard. "Winchester was a good day for all of us. The car was good in practice. We made the show, finished the race and didn't bring the car on a flatbed, we met our goals. I'm excited about this weekend, because it will mark our first Superspeedway race working together. I'm expecting good things."
Veteran Johnny Leonard spotter Phil McAlister will return to the spotting duties this weekend at Kentucky. At Salem and Winchester, Jack/Cole, Inc. Public Relations Representative Chris Knight guided Leonard from up above. "Chris did a good job at Salem and Winchester. He didn't spot at the beginning of the Winchester race, but I had him come up and finish the race for me and he did an awesome job. I really enjoyed having him spot. He is not as comfortable on the bigger tracks, so Phil agreed to come and spot this weekend. Phil has spotted for me at a lot of races. I'm glad he'll be with us this weekend."
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 improve our program even further. We've brought on some extra help to concentrate on the marketing department, so hopefully we'll be announcing some new marketing partners soon."