Kentucky: Scott Speed race report

Speed Leads Most Laps; Takes 2nd at Kentucky SPARTA, Ky. (May 10, 2008) -- Some things just are not meant to be and this weekend Scott Speed and the Red Bull team were not meant to be in Victory Lane at Kentucky Speedway. Speed dominated the...

Speed Leads Most Laps; Takes 2nd at Kentucky

SPARTA, Ky. (May 10, 2008) -- Some things just are not meant to be and this weekend Scott Speed and the Red Bull team were not meant to be in Victory Lane at Kentucky Speedway. Speed dominated the race, leading more laps than any other driver and earning him the Aaron's Lap Leader award for the caution-extended 168-mile Drive Smart! Buckle Up Kentucky 150. With restarts plagued caution after caution, missing a gear and running on fumes, the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota was passed by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in the second late-race restart. Unable to get past Stenhouse in the final one-lap dash, Speed finished the night in the second position.

[IMAGE]"There is no doubt that we made the right decision to stay out," said Speed. "We pitted a lot earlier than everyone else and didn't really get worried about running out of fuel until we kept getting restart after restart. We lost third gear on one of the last restarts. Stenhouse was able to get past us and I just couldn't catch him in the final lap. It was frustrating because we did everything right tonight. Some things you can't control and we couldn't control all those cautions."

Speed started the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota in the seventh position after qualifying with a 30.770 second lap on Saturday afternoon. When the third of the day's ten cautions came out on lap 26, Crew Chief Patrick Donahue made the call to come to the pits for four tires and fuel. The team also removed a strip of tape from the grill to adjust the car's tight condition. Speed restarted the race at lap 34 in the 15th position.

The fourth caution quickly came out again at lap 36. The remaining leaders came to the pits with the exception of the No. 48 car of Jake Francis. The race restarted on lap 45 with Speed in the second position. Speed worked to chase down the 48 and on lap 52, while maneuvering through lapped traffic, the Red Bull Toyota pulled into the lead.

Spotter Slugger Labbe commented to his driver, "way to work the traffic there driver. Nice move!"

Speed dominated the next 55 laps and it looked like the Red Bull team was going to visit Victory Lane for the second time this season. Every caution aided in the fuel conservation since the only pit stop made by the No. 2 was on lap 29. Follow the seventh caution of the day, the race restarted with three laps to go. Every member of the Eddie Sharp Racing organization held their breath as they watched one of their teammates poised to take the checkered flag.

The racing gods, however, decided to throw a curve ball on lap 99. The eighth caution of the day came out with a big wreck in turn one. With debris scattered on the track, the cars were halted and the race red-flagged. It was during the red flag that Speed radioed to his team that "third gear is gone. It happened on that last restart."

When the field returned to caution laps, the teams readied for the green-white-checkered finish. The green flag came out at lap 103 and Speed, the leader, too the white flag at lap 104. Shortly after the leaders crossed the start-finish line with one-to-go, yet another caution came out. Due to an ARCA RE/MAX Series rule that no race finishes under caution, all remaining restarts would be one-lap dashes to the checkered flags.

On the green-white-checkered attempt, Ricky Stenhouse managed to pull into the second position. Speed led the lap 107 restart, and handicapped without a third gear, was passed by the strong No. 99. Before the single-dash lap could be completed, the tenth and final caution of the race came out during lap 107. When the race restarted at lap 112, Speed was second to Stenhouse and just did not have enough left to get past him.

"We had GREAT restarts all night long," stated Speed. "We had that race won three times, who know it was going to have to go an extra 12 laps. At that point, we weren't sure if we would run out of gas or not. It was the right thing, not coming in after that early pit stop. We took a gamble and it almost paid off. It put us in the position to win. Thank you to the team for another great car. Today was a good points day. That will help us dig out of the hole that Rockingham put us in. And I know that we'll get back to Victory Lane very soon."

With his second-place finish, Speed advanced into the sixth position in the ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship points standings, 125 points behind new leader Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

-credit: esr

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Series ARCA
Drivers Scott Speed