Leslie named Benson's crew chief By Shawn A. Akers LIBERTY, N.C. (Nov. 17, 1998) Bobby Leslie, who led Mark Martin's NASCAR sBusch Series Grand National Division team to victories in nearly a third of its starts since 1994, has...
Leslie named Benson's crew chief By Shawn A. Akers
LIBERTY, N.C. (Nov. 17, 1998) Bobby Leslie, who led Mark Martin's NASCAR sBusch Series Grand National Division team to victories in nearly a third of its starts since 1994, has been named then crew chief for Jack Roush's No. 26 Cheerios Ford Taurus in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
Leslie, A 12-year veteran of Roush Racing, will begin his duties immediately for the Cheerios team. Ben Leslie, who was the interim crew chief for the team the last few weeks of the 1998 season after the departure of Steve Hmiel, will return to his duties as car chief for driver Johnny Benson.
Bobby Leslie said it was a difficult decision to leave his position as crew chief of the No. 60 Winn-Dixie Ford in the NASCAR Busch Series. Leslie and Martin won 25 of 79 starts since 1994 -- a winning percentage of .316 -- and Martin became the circuit's career victories leader. He currently has 34 career series wins after winning twice this season.
"This is where every crew chief in the business wants to be (in Winston Cup) at some time in their career," Bobby Leslie said. "I worked with Mark (Martin) for so long and we had a great relationship and a lot of success. We had a lot of fun with that team and won a lot of races, now we'll see if we can't do that with this team."
Bobby Leslie started with Roush Racing in September 1987 as a mechanic on Martin's NASCAR Winston Cup Series car. He was the jackman in 1988, the gasman in 1989, and then became the spotter from 1990-1998.
Martin, who has scored at least one NASCAR Busch Series victory in each of the last seven years, has typically run partial series schedules of up to 17 races since 1988. This past season, Martin and Bobby Leslie teamed for two wins, six top-fives and nine top-10s in 15 NASCAR Busch Series starts.
"Bobby has been with Roush Racing since the beginning," Roush said. "He has had a great deal of success with our organization. I think he will be a great asset to Johnny and the Cheerios crew."
The 1996 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year and the 1995 NASCAR Busch series champion, Benson finished a disappointing 20th in the standings this past season with three top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.
Bobby Leslie said he and Benson would work closely together to help strengthen the 26 team's position in the series.
"We definitely want to run a lot better in 1999, that's for sure," Leslie said. "We've got to be a lot more organized and we've got to plan a lot farther ahead than just two or three races. We'll need more people to work on the car at home and in the fabricating shop. If we do that, then the quality of the results at the race track will increase."
Tony Lambert, a Roush Racing employee who Bobby Leslie said did the body hanging for all the speedway cars for the No. 60 Winn-Dixie Ford team, will be the new crew chief for that team. Lambert has had some experience as a crew chief in the NASCAR Busch Series in the past.
Source: NASCAR Online