Johnny Leonard Returns To Site Of Career Best ARCA Finish LEBANON, Tennessee (April 13, 2006) - - For ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Johnny Leonard, Nashville Superspeedway holds a special place in his racing resume. Last August, after qualifying...
Johnny Leonard Returns To Site Of Career Best ARCA Finish
LEBANON, Tennessee (April 13, 2006) - - For ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Johnny Leonard, Nashville Superspeedway holds a special place in his racing resume. Last August, after qualifying 15th Leonard maneuvered his way into the top-ten to collect a career best finish of ninth. This year, Leonard is thinking bigger, he wants a top-five.
"Nashville brings back a lot of memories," said the Cape Coral, Florida native. "I love this track. I haven't always had the best of luck here, but it's a track I enjoy racing at. This race is always about survival. If I finish the race, I always have a decent finish; I want the same results this year."
Leonard heads to the second event on the 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule after posting a very discouraging 30th place finish in the season opener from Daytona International Speedway. After qualifying in the back, Leonard roared his sponsorless No. 13 Chevrolet Monte Carlo to the front and was solidly running in the top-12, before being tapped in the rear by another competitor and ending his day. "Daytona is over with," Johnny recalled. "The car isn't damaged too badly, it's not totaled and that's a plus. In 2005, we left Daytona with a destroyed Pontiac. We'll be able to put the car back together and race it at Talladega."
Johnny has four prior starts at NSS (Nashville International Speedway) with a career best finish of ninth after starting 15th in 2005. Leonard also finished 18th in the summer event in 2004. Returning for a third straight season as crew chief for Nashville, Bobby Dick will lead the team's efforts.
After qualifying 29th in last years event (31.199 seconds, 153.813 MPH) Leonard has a feeling that his equipment is better which will aide him in the starting grid. "Last year we had a rough weekend. We lost one of our best cars in the final seconds of happy hour forcing us to the back up car which was a 2002 Chevrolet body and the motor was lacking some horsepower but we made it. We developed some mechanical issues during the race and we didn't have the best finish, but this year we have one of the cars we ran very well with last year and we're looking forward to a productive weekend."
While running under the Affordable Roofing Racing banner at Daytona, the team has changed names for the PFG Lester 150. For the remainder of the 2006 season, the No. 13 with Johnny Leonard will run under Jack/Cole Racing, Inc. Leonard is in the final stages of unveiling a new trucking company in Southwest Florida, Jack/Cole Trucking, Inc. "Jack/Cole stand for the names of my two sons. I'm excited about the trucking company. We also decided to also change the name of the race team, it's a good feeling for me."
The No. 13 Jack/Cole Racing 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 really doing everything we can to find some additional funding for this team," added Leonard. "We have some good cars, some really good motors, but any financial assistance would help us become a championship caliber operation."
Despite no primary sponsorship for the event, the team is excited to have pme (Pro Motor Engineering), Leading Edge Racecars, Tex Racing Enterprises and Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Spence Lane as associate sponsors for the first of two events at Nashville Superspeedway this season.
"I'm thankful for the people and companies that have stepped up to help our effort for Nashville. I hope we can give them a finish they would be pleased with."
The team opted to skip last month's open test but that doesn't faze Leonard or his team. b^0x001cEven though we didn't test I know that we have a good car and engine for the race and we'll be okay, I have total faith in my crew. As a team we weren't prepared for the unexpected and losing a racecar which would put us behind. We're locked into the field, and that's the most important thing. We will race on Saturday.
Nashville will also mark the first race of the season where Johnny will work with new teammate Ryan Howard from Mark Gibson Racing. MGR and JCR will work together for the remainder of the season. "I'm really looking forward to having Ryan my teammate," explained Johnny. "He is a great guy, competitor and friend. Mark Gibson, I can't say enough about him. This is the best thing that has happened to Jack/Cole Racing, Inc. so far this season."
Rolling into Nashville, Leonard, a former Florida late model driver has 34 ARCA RE/MAX Series starts to his resume with a career best finish of ninth at Nashville Superspeedway (August 2005) while holding two additional top ten finishes at Pocono International Raceway (July 2005) and Toledo Speedway (September 2005). He also has a career best superspeedway qualifying effort of seventh at Kentucky Speedway (July 2005) followed by a career best short track time trials effort of eighth at Lake Erie Speedway (August 2005).
The PFG Lester 150 (150 miles/113 laps) is the second of 23 events on the 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule. Practice begins Friday, April 14th with a two-hour ten minute (12:00pm-2:10pm EST) session planned. Pork pole qualifying is also on tap for Friday (5:30pm EST) with the race set to take the green flag Saturday, April 15th. The race will be televised live on the SPEED channel beginning at 1:30pm (EST).