In his first full season of NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) competition, driver and team owner B.J. McLeod has experienced a lot. From the highs and lows, to the new and the old, but nothing has opened up his eyes more than road course racing.
McLeod will be the first to admit that he is no road racing ace, let alone even an amateur, but the Wauchula, Florida native knows that three road course races were on the docket when he signed up for the XFINITY Series championship fight and after a solid 26th place finish last weekend at Watkins Glen (N.Y.), McLeod is ready to continue the battle in Saturday’s Mid-Ohio 200.
“We struggled with the car last weekend at Watkins Glen, but we made the best of it with a 26th place finish,” said McLeod. “I’m OK with that. Of course, a finish inside the top-20 would have been excellent, but we can take our Watkins Glen finish in stride and hope we can better from it this weekend at Mid-Ohio.”
Despite not having any laps at the 2.25-mile road course, McLeod is anxious to get on the track and study the turns for himself, gunning for a strong performance in the next to last XFINITY Series standalone race of the season.
“Believe it or not, despite the problems we had with our car turning at Watkins Glen, I learned a lot,” added McLeod. “I learned what to do and a lot of not what to do, in the end that will make me a better driver. I’m not sure I’ll ever be an expert on road course racing, but I’m embracing the challenge and trying to defeat the challenge to the best of my ability, I’ll be glad when we get back to ovals,” he added jokingly.
With a sketchy forecast this weekend at Mid-Ohio, McLeod knows that Friday and even Saturday could be faced with some inclement weather in the name of rain, which means NASCAR could force teams to utilize rain tires. For McLeod, he’s hoping the race course stays dry – eyeing the bigger picture in the end.
“If it rains, it’s definitely going to be interesting, I can say that much,” added McLeod. “I don’t have any experience in the rain, so I’ll have to rely on someone who is there that knows what they are doing and then it’s up to me to make sure I can take from what I learned from them and apply it forward in either practice, qualifying or the race. You have to race the track and not the competitors at that point.”
McLeod, who pilots the No. 78 Ford Mustang full-time in the XFINITY Series is eager to work with Stanton Barrett, especially considering his hone for road course racing. Barrett, 43, will drive the No. 15 Ford Mustang in Saturday’s Mid-Ohio 200 in a collaborative effort between B.J. McLeod Motorsports and Rick Ware Racing.
“I can use all the help I can get on a road course,” McLeod said. “It’s a new type of racing for me and we may the best out of it last weekend at Watkins Glen. That’s one down, two more to go. But having the chance to work and bounce ideas off with someone like Stanton is a good deal for me. He can help our team expand on our road course knowledge and that’s the bigger picture.”
Veteran industry crew chief George (David) Ingram Jr. will call the shots for the No. 78 B.J. McLeod Motorsports Ford Mustang for the 21st race of the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series season.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!