Championship Hopes Dashed as Short Track Tempers Flared in Toledo Finale TOLEDO, Ohio (October 12, 2008) -- Scott Speed and his No. 2 Red Bull team took the green flag on Sunday leading the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship point standings....
Championship Hopes Dashed as Short Track Tempers Flared in Toledo Finale
TOLEDO, Ohio (October 12, 2008) -- Scott Speed and his No. 2 Red Bull team took the green flag on Sunday leading the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship point standings. Short track tempers flared and 34 laps later, the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota sat in flames against the inside wall between turns 1 and 2, dashing the hope of championship dreams.
"I was really surprised at how aggressive Ricky was as soon as the race started," said Speed. "We were had just negotiated for him to pass us on the outside when he kept going for my left rear bumper. I know that everyone will only remember the last wreck, but there was a lot of contact from lap 1 from the 99. But it is what it is. I know there were a lot of rumors of teams that planned to wreck us out there today. I had hoped the day would turn out differently and we'd be on the stage. The guys worked really hard all year and they deserved it."
Speed started the afternoon in the third position and climbed quickly to second, filing in behind teammate and pole sitter, Justin Lofton. The No. 20 had a commanding lead while the No. 99 remained tight on the rear bumper of the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota. During the lap 20 caution, the No. 99 and No. 2 spotters relayed to their drivers that Speed would allow the No. 99 to pass to the outside. On lap 27 however, contact was made with the No. 99 from behind and the No. 2 received extensive right-side damage from contact with the outside wall. Speed came down pit road several times under caution to make attempts at repairing the car despite reports that it was "not driveable."
Speed restarted the race one lap down to the leaders. As they say, the rest is history. The No. 2 Red Bull Toyota made contact first with the No.99 just off of turn 1, and then hard into the outside wall and harder still into the inside wall. The inside wall, comprised of giant cement blocks, was shifted several feet by the Camry's impact. The team went quickly to work to lay out parts for repair, but stopped when it became apparent that the day was over for the No. 2 car which had flames and smoke pouring from the under the hood. Speed finished in the 34th position, completing 34 laps and logging only his second DNF of the 2008 season. Speed reported blurred vision and a sore knee and was taken by ambulance to St. Vincent's hospital where he was treated and released.
The point standings damage was far worse than that to the No. 2 car. With his recent performance, Justin Allgaier had put himself into the hunt for the championship, taking the green flag in the third position in the point standings with 110 points separating him from Speed. Allgaier took the checkered flag on Sunday for the race win and the championship title. Despite returning to the track to complete the event, Stenhouse, Jr. fell to fifth in points.
Sunday's race marked only the fourth race this season that Speed and the No. 2 Red Bull team finished outside of the top-10. The team and rookie driver finished the 2008 season with some very impressive statistics. The No. 2 Toyota started in the top-10 in 19 of 21 races, with 12 of those starts in the top-5. Speed claimed three SIM Factory Pole awards. The No. 2 finished in the top-10 in 17 of 21 races, recording ten top-5 finishes. Speed and his Red Bull team visited victory lane four times.
The former F-1 driver quickly adapted to oval speedways with a performance that earned the No. 2 team the 2008 Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge Championship.
"This team worked incredibly hard all year to put us in the position to win the championship and they should be very proud of themselves for that," said Crew Chief Patrick Donahue. "We could sit and hash out the could've, should've, would've scenarios, but it won't change the results. We'll just take everything we learned this year, the good and bad, and apply it to 2009."
Donahue entered the weekend with a large lead in the 2008 Cometic Crew Chief Award. The title will be officially announced at the December 6th awards banquet.
Team owner Eddie Sharp commented that, "the entire Eddie Sharp organization should be commended for a successful season. Everyone worked extremely hard all year. We came to the track each week with three very competitive cars. There are simply things beyond our control that occur and to beat ourselves up for that is pointless. I want to thank Red Bull for their support and faith in us to develop Scott Speed. We look forward to continuing to build a relationship with such a great organization. Speed is a talented driver, there is no doubt about that, and we wish him well in his future endeavors."
Speed will continue his career behind the wheel of the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.