Speed Tackles Salem with Veteran-like Consistency; Starts and Finishes in 5th Position
SALEM, Ind. (April 13, 2008) -- Scott Speed wheeled the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota around the Salem Speedway this weekend like a seasoned veteran rather than a rookie. Speed qualified his Red Bull Toyota in the fifth position on Saturday. Despite freezing temperatures and the rain-delayed start of the race, Speed effortlessly hit his marks, led eight of the 200 laps, and crossed the finish line in the fifth place.
As rained moved in on Sunday, conditions did not look good for the scheduled race. However, late in the afternoon, the radar showed a break in the showers and the ARCA RE/MAX Series teams quickly scrambled into gear with the race going green shortly after 5:00 p.m.
Speed started on the inside of the third row, falling back to the tenth position until he could safely move the Red Bull Toyota to the preferred high line on the legendary high-banked half-mile track. Before the first caution, Speed cleanly moved the No. 2 car back to the top-5.
"I'm just trying not to hit anything," reported Speed on the radio as he sat parked on the front stretch during the race's first red flag. "This is as crazy as Martinsville. It's a lot faster, though. My head's spinning."
The team pitted early, putting on four fresh tires and a fuel. Speed remained in the top-10 throughout the remainder of the race.
Following a caution on lap 136, Crew Chief Patrick Donahue radioed to his driver "awesome job working that traffic. You look like you've had 1000 laps out here."
Speed radioed back to Donahue, "Yeah, I almost had that guy, too! [race leader, Carter] I think I can get him this next time for sure."
Donahue added, "I know. That's the most aggressive thing I've seen you do in a race car. Keep it up."
As the race laps counted down, Speed reported to his team during the caution at lap 173 that the handling of the car was starting to fall off. "I'm loose when I'm on my own. When there are cars around me, it's handling ok. But when I am alone, it's starting to slide."
Donahue told his driver that they would come to the pits as soon as pit lane opened. "You're going to be in here with about 22 laps to go. And you'll have the freshest tires." Donahue added "you did a hell of a job saving that in [turn] one."
Pitting for the final time, the Red Bull pit crew put two fresh tires on the right side of the No. 2 Toyota. Donahue radioed to Speed that driver Ken Schrader had gotten out of the pits ahead of the No. 2 car. "Hang tight with Schrader. Stay on his bumper; he'll take you to the front."
Speed held onto the fifth position through the final caution and the green-white-checkered finish to the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 by Federated Auto Parts.
"The first laps of the race we were really good; at the end we struggled for sure," stated Speed following the race. "Just struggled a little bit. We were loose; just lost a bit of grip overall. We pitted quite early for our tires so that may have contributed to our handling falling off at the end a little. To be honest, it was just a natural feeling to get around that track. It is definitely fast, but a lot of fun."