CONCORD, N.C. (June 25, 2012) -The Sonoma raceway left a lasting impression on Scott Speed, as each turn brought back a familiarity to the California native. It was this knowledge that helped Leavine Family Racing (LFR) overcome early trouble and rally the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford to finish 25th at the Sonoma road course.
As it turns out, a spark plug wire was the difference between finishing a lap down in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma raceway and finishing in the Top 10 for Speed and the No. 95 Ford.
Speed had barely gotten up to speed on the second lap when he noticed something was terribly wrong. He stopped on the third lap for a pit stop, and the team quickly realized a spark plug wire had come off.
“It was incredibly disappointing because we were among the leaders in practice and we had such a solid qualifying run,” Speed said. “We felt like Sonoma was a chance for our best finish. We did well, but it should have been a lot better.”
Speed wound up 25th, a lap down, after starting 22nd.
There are several ways a plug wire can come loose, according to crew chief Wally Rogers. The 1.99-mile road course has a lot of curbing and bumps, and any one of them could have jarred the wire off the spark plug.
“The good thing is we were able to fix the issue and get back into the race,” Rogers said. “We’re glad it wasn’t a terminal issue. But we lost a lap early and never got it back.”
Speed exited the pits down in 41st, but he was able to improve his final position by 16 spots to provide LFR its best qualifying effort and race finish in the team’s young history.
“When we got back on the track we were as fast as the leaders,” Speed said. “But there weren’t a lot of cautions, especially in the first half of the race, so it was really hard for us to get one of the lucky dog spots. The leaders were putting other cars a lap down and that kept dropping us down the lucky dog list.”
“We just couldn’t catch a break with the cautions,” Rogers said. “We had one of the best cars out there, but that early stop kept us from a really good finish. That was the best 25th-place car I’ve ever had.”
Speed was 19th on the charts during the first practice session. He followed that up by qualifying 22nd.
“The car had really good balance,” Speed said. “We looked forward to this race all year because Sonoma is my home track. Wally built a great car for that track. If we didn’t have to make an unscheduled stop for a plug wire, I think we could have been Top 10.”
“We’ll put this car on jack stands in the shop and bring it back out for the Watkins Glen race. We shouldn’t have to make any changes to it. It’s fast just like it is,” Rogers said.
Leavine Family Racing is running a limited schedule in the Sprint Cup Series. The team’s next scheduled race is at the Kentucky Speedway next weekend.
About Us Leavine Family Racing (LFR), currently a two-team operation in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the ARCA Racing Series, is a Texas-based team – headquartered in Tyler, Texas. The racing team also has an entry in the ARCA Racing Series – the No. 95 car with development driver Michael Leavine. The team is owned by Bob and Sharon Leavine.
Leavine Family Racing began competing in NASCAR with four career-starts for the 2011 racing season in NASCAR’s premier series.
The team’s shop is located in Concord, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s turn two.