The 13-year-old’s busy week got underway last Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway as he finished up the Thursday Thunder Series. Zach and his Doug Stevens-led team fought through the on and off rain and being caught up in an early feature wreck to finish second in the Young Lions race.
In the Pro division’s feature that night, Zach’s car began leaking oil and it was spilling onto his right rear tire, causing the No. 24 to be very loose. Zach was easy on the steering wheel and brake pedal and brought the car home to a fourth place finish.
The team loaded up and headed for Anderson, South Carolina on Friday to race at Anderson Motor Speedway for a prelude to Saturday’s INEX Legend Car National Qualifier.
For this leg of the “tour”, Zach’s operation would be directed by Matt Drake, who had prepared the team’s second car for competition on the challenging track which combines all Legend Car divisions into one program, which meant that Zach would be competing against racers who have had years more experience than he.
On Friday, Zach started 11th in the feature event, which went from green to checkered with no yellow flags. After being shuffled back to 13th early, he began to make his move, working his way through the field one car at a time to a strong 7th place finish overall and a WIN in the Young Lions division – his second at the track this season!
“Tonight was tough because all we had was practice and a main,” Zach said afterward. “We had no qualifying heats or time trials. Some of the best from the Charlotte area are here and the locals that run here every week are really good so to get 7th and win Young Lions is pretty awesome! Thanks to Matt and our team for everything they did tonight to give me a fast race car.”
Saturday’s National Qualifier would prove just as challenging. Combining the Young Lions and Semi-Pro divisions in a fight for a guaranteed starting spot in the division’s season-ending championship race.
Zach started seventh. He was passing for sixth when, in his words, “A car in front of me slammed his brakes and we hooked bumpers, bringing out a yellow.” He restarted in the back of the field.
Then he began to charge.
He quickly but carefully begin passing cars, working his way into the top five and challenging for fourth place at the checkers. He finished fifth overall and second in the Young Lions division, his second podium finish of the weekend at Anderson.
Following a Sunday off, Zach climbed back in the race car on Monday, for race 9 of the 10 race Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Shootout is considered to be the biggest series in Legend Car racing, taking place just a few miles from where every single one of these cars are built at the U.S. Legend Cars manufacturing plant in Harrisburg, North Carolina.
With no prior experience on the track, Zach got faster each time out as he learned the track and worked with Matt Drake on setup. He started 10th in the feature event, but lady luck shortened his debut to just a few laps.
Several cars around him crashed and Zach had no place to go. Damage to the rear end of his car sent him to the pits early and left the team with much work to do on Tuesday to get ready for the final race of the series at Charlotte.
After his disappointing 23rd place result on Monday, Zach was faster on Tuesday and determined to change his fortune. Starting 17th in the feature, he avoided several incidents and fought hard to a 13th place finish, highly respectable for a driver’s second time out at the Shootout, which is televised in condensed form on Fox Sports 1 via tape delay on Thursday nights each week during the summer.
The team loaded up and headed back South for Georgia just long enough to say hi to the neighbors and check on the house. They are headed back to North Carolina for the annual Bowman Gray Stadium Legends Race Night on Friday in Winston-Salem.
One last race before a break in the schedule for the “Zach Attack”, who’d rather race than eat supper.
“After this, it’s back to school and focusing on rebuilding the motors and getting the cars ready for a few shows late in the year and the racing at Auburndale Speedway in Florida in the Spring,” Zach noted. “But first, I am excited to see what Bowman Gray is all about. It’s a college football field with a race track around the outside. How cool is that?”
About Zach Leonhardi
He is considered by many to be a potential rising star as he makes his way through the developmental series ranks.
His motorsports partners include New Beginning Signs and Graphics, FinishMaster, Pinky Toes Nail Salon, Team Full Throttle, RacerBoost.Com, LLC., NAPA of Kennesaw and Castrol
Zach is a part of the Charlotte, N.C. based Team Full Throttle Driver Development program for public relations and media, marketing and communications training.
For more information on Zach you an visit his website at www.leonhardimotorsports.com or search Leonhardi Motorsports on Facebook.