2010 NASCAR Preseason Thunder Daytona Fan Fest: Saturday news conference
January 16, 2010
An Interview with Scott Speed
DENISE MALOOF: Scott Speed joins us. Scott, a very interesting year for you last year, and you ended the season strong. You had some good performances there at the very end. Very encouraged, I'm sure, going into 2010.
SCOTT SPEED: 2010, what has everyone said so far, just pretend like I said that, because I'm probably feeling the exact same way. We're excited, we're ready to go out.
We've already had an off-season that for me is almost like -- there's a sense inside you like you're missing something. When the weekends come and go and you're actually at home, it feels weird. So definitely ready to get back out there like everyone else. There's nothing crazy that's gone on with our team or my stuff personally. It's all just a continuation of last year.
DENISE MALOOF: And that's a good thing for you, some continuity going into the second year.
SCOTT SPEED: Absolutely. Even if the results didn't necessarily show it, we ended the year extremely well compared to where we were at the beginning. We had great finishes in the beginning of the year where we're like, you know, thinking that we're at a certain place that we were, and we struggled a lot through the middle, and then to come back at the end of the year, the results are oftentimes -- especially in my case where you're a rookie and you're learning things, it's often not the easiest way to judge where you're at. We've had good results, but we're still not at the level where we are now, and there's still a lot more for us to go. So yeah, I don't know where I was going with that. I was rambling.
Q: They're talking about eliminating the yellow line here, allowing you guys to bump draft, giving you a bigger restrictor plate. What's your thoughts on that?
SCOTT SPEED: Yeah, I was in that meeting where they were asking us. I think the bigger restrictor plate I think is a good thing. It's good for everyone. I think allowing us to race more, I think that was a clear decision. You know, and on a side note, just the fact that NASCAR is going about and asking us and talking with the fans and the drivers about what is going to make the sport better is really, I think, going to be the cornerstone and probably the main reason why NASCAR is as successful as it is.
You know, obviously coming from Formula 1 to something completely different, this is something completely new, and it's a very good thing that we have of our sport.
The yellow line is something that all of us are like, ooh, that definitely hasn't been decided yet. I think we're all kind of on the fence about whether that would make the racing better or not. But nonetheless, there's no doubt that this year's Daytona 500 will be more exciting, and NASCAR is pushing us to say, okay, we're not going to be on you guys nearly as bad about this bump drafting and about racing. We're going to let you guys go out there and do your thing.
For us they're kind of taking the chains off, I think, and it's going to be exciting.
Q: There's some talk about some of the owners that were in the Top 35 last year not coming back. You may be in the Top 35 at Daytona. After experiencing what you did with the go or go home qualifying deal, how big a deal would that be if you're locked in, or is it something you don't think about, or how mentally taxing is it?
SCOTT SPEED: On a normal race weekend, it's not the greatest thing because you have to be a little bit conservative, you can't let it all hang out there, and it's all in the back of your mind on the race weekend. It's a necessary thing for the sport with the amount of cars that we have going in there, and that is a good thing, to have that many cars in the sport, to have to spend people home, that's not a bad thing. Obviously if we're in the Top 35, especially for Daytona where you have to physically race your way into it, it's pretty conceivable that's something -- you can get caught up into something in one of those qualifying races pretty quickly. We definitely don't want to be in that position.
But at this point it's out of our control. We worry about the things that we can control and that we can work on, and we'll prepare ourselves the best we can, and hopefully it's a non-issue.
Q: Where do you think you'll make the most improvement this year, and are you doing any Nationwide or truck races?
SCOTT SPEED: Nothing is confirmed at the moment for any Nationwide or truck stuff. I think the biggest improvement is experience, obviously, and where I think that shows up the most is just in the racing itself. You know, you get 35 guys out there that are all running pretty similar lap times, the guys that are able to go forward are the guys that can make good passes or can run defensively really well. And that's something that is -- the way you make a pass, for example, in the NASCAR, on an oval, is so completely different than what I'm used to, when you run at this level -- that was one of the biggest shocks or the biggest eye opener things when I came to the Cup level, and I think it's still probably the thing I'm learning the most as the weekends go by.
Q: As a former open-wheel guy, what type of awakening do you expect Danica Patrick will see here?
SCOTT SPEED: The same exact one that Dario Franchitti got and I'm getting. I want to compare everything to Dario because he's the champion of that series that she's racing in, and what he's experienced coming over is probably going to be very similar minus all of the media attention that's going to come with her that doesn't come with most people.
DENISE MALOOF: What did you do in the off-season?
SCOTT SPEED: I didn't go hunting, I'll tell you that. That's not normal. (Laughter.)
DENISE MALOOF: Thank you. We'll see you again very soon.
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