Johnny Leonard Looking For Some Toledo Magic CAPE CORAL, Fla. (May 18, 2006) - - When the tough get going, the going get tough. That is the attitude for ARCA RE/MAX Series sophomore driver Johnny Leonard as he streams ahead to this weekend's ...
Johnny Leonard Looking For Some Toledo Magic
CAPE CORAL, Fla. (May 18, 2006) - - When the tough get going, the going get tough. That is the attitude for ARCA RE/MAX Series sophomore driver Johnny Leonard as he streams ahead to this weekend's event from Toledo Speedway.
It's no secret, the 2006 season has been tough on the former successful Florida late model driver. In only five races, Leonard has only conquered one top-twenty finish at Winchester Speedway earlier this month. With the previous races in the past, it's a new game plan for Leonard, their 2006 season starts now.
Leonard will head North this weekend looking to duplicate his top-ten performance at the half-mile short track. Last season, Leonard steered his No. 13 Chevrolet Monte Carlo under the guidance of crew chief Ted Kennedy to a tenth place finish, one of three top-ten finishes for the then-rookie competitor in the fall event.
In practice last September, Leonard put his machine 20th (17.481seconds, 102.969 mph) on the speed charts with the team looking forward to qualifying. In qualifications he paced a lap of 17.281 seconds at 104.161mph good enough for 26th. Despite starting mid-pack, Leonard and his team remained confident they had a solid racecar. During the course of the caution-filled event, Leonard was maturing into a veteran using the "give and take" method, he ran a smart and clean race and put on a furious battle with veteran Andy Belmont in the final fifty laps to cross the line completing the top-ten.
"Toledo is a fun race track," Leonard recalled. "We didn't run as well in the spring event last year, but I had the track figured out late last year and I had a ball. I wasn't' a huge fan of short track racing at first, but the more I did, the more I enjoy it. I am looking for another top-ten finish this weekend."
Toledo marks the fourth race for Jack/Cole, Inc. running entirely under the Mark Gibson Racing (MGR) banner. 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. After a two-week break from competition following Toledo, Leonard's "Florida" team will run Pocono under the guidance of Gibson. MGR will return to the full controls at Michigan International Speedway a week later.
"Our performances do not amount to the effort, dedication and determination that our teams have put in together. We've had a few rough races, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel. We were battling with a car that didn't adapt well to the track, so we've parked it until we get it right."
The team has opted to bring the same Chevrolet Monte Carlo they ran at Salem Speedway and Winchester Speedway earlier this year. Adjustments have been made to car that JCI (Jack/Cole, Inc.) purchased from Vision Racing (ARCA, No. 37 Chevrolet) with the intent of running strong off the truck.
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. "Sponsorship is tough, that is no lie," added Leonard. "We really have a good team with some good personnel. We just need some 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."
"I cannot continue to thank the supporters and companies who have stood by our team even after our rocky start to the season. We are coming together. Last year, we had a slow start, but I have a feeling it's all going to start turning around and we'll be back to our niche."