Speed Charges Hard in Final Laps at Pocono; Finishes Second Moves to third in series championship point standings Pocono, Pa. (June 7, 2008) -- Scott Speed and the Red Bull team always bring their "A" game to the track and this weekend was no...
Speed Charges Hard in Final Laps at Pocono; Finishes Second Moves to third in series championship point standings
Pocono, Pa. (June 7, 2008) -- Scott Speed and the Red Bull team always bring their "A" game to the track and this weekend was no different. Speed and his Eddie Sharp Racing crew earned nearly every accolade at Pocono Speedway. Speed sat at the top of the practice speed chart, earned the SIM Factory Pole Award by blowing the competition away with a 53.862 second qualifying lap, the Aaron's Lap Leader of the Race for leading the most laps and charged from 25th to a second place finish in the final laps of the Pocono 200. Oh, yes, and in between all of that, Speed jetted to Texas Motor Speedway and back to run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race. Just another weekend in the life of one of stock car racing's rising stars.
Speed started the day from the pole position at Pocono Speedway and quickly pulled out to a dominating lead. During the first caution on lap three, Speed reports to the team that the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota is "just a little bit free. It's not that bad and I'm not complaining; it's just a handful right now." The next caution emerged on lap nine and Speed radioed that the car is "no so much loose, just a lack of overall grip on all four corners."
Speed led the first 12 laps before the No. 16 of Justin Allgaier caught the Red Bull Toyota and took over the lead position. Speed settled into second place and focused on adjusting his line to catch the No. 16 that was pulling away.
On lap 29, Speed and the race leaders came to pit road under the caution for scheduled stops. The Red Bull crew put four fresh tires on the Camry and made adjustments to give the driver the grip he was looking for. Upon examination, the right rear tire had a gash in it and had already lost many pounds of air. The caution and pit stop could not have happened at a better time.
Speed restarted the race and gained the lead in the first lap. The caution came out again immediately on lap 33. During the seven caution laps, Speed and Crew Chief Patrick Donahue exchanged comical quips. Donahue reminded Speed to conserve his fuel, to which Speed replied, "No problem! I'm a saving fuel kinda guy!" As Speed cruised down the frontstretch on the next lap, Donahue radioed, "Hey Scott! See my umbrella?" Speed laughed and replied, "Awwww, isn't that nice?! You and the missus up there."
The race restarted on lap 40 with Speed out front. On lap 48, the drama began for the No. 2 team.
Speed radioed that he felt something suddenly break in the front of the car. Spotter Slugger Labbe confirmed that the left front tire was flat. Speed was able to immediately steer the car to pit road under the green flag. The Red Bull crew quickly put on four tires and added fuel to the Toyota and Speed rejoined the field.
Speed radioed, "I don't know what happened. I didn't touch the curb at all."
Donahue reassured his driver, "it wasn't you, Scott."
While in the pit, the caution flag was thrown for an incident on the track, aiding Speed and the Red Bull team in remaining on the lead lap despite the green flag stop. During the caution, the leaders chose to also pit and as the field cycled through, Speed was returned to the lead position.
During the caution laps, the team radioed Speed that the No. 16 had lost third gear and may have issues on the restart.
"That's a shame," replied Speed. "That was some really good racing we had going on there with the 16. That's just really unfortunate."
With 24 laps remaining in the race, Speed restarted in the first position and pulled out once again to a strong lead.
On lap 65 the left front tire blew again. Speed calmly maneuvered the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota back to his pit for another set of tires. Once again, the team returned Speed to the track on the lead lap. When Speed rejoined the field he was buried deep in the field in position 25.
Only two laps later, the caution came out and Speed was scored in the 18th position. As Donahue and Labbe tried to reassure Speed that he could pick up a position here and there, Speed replied, "let's not predict where we're going to finish. Clearly we can't predict anything; we've already blown two tires while leading. I'm just going to go out and pass as many cars as I can and see what happens."
And that is precisely what Scott Speed did.
On the restart, Speed powered into the top-10. When the caution flag flew on lap 77 that sent the race to a green-white-checkered finish, Speed was already up to the fifth position.
"Excellent job!" radioed Donahue. "That was a really good restart there."
The race resumed on lap 85. Speed took the white flag on lap 86 in the fourth position and set to charge for the lead, going three-wide into Turn 1 against teammate Justin Lofton in the No. 20 Lofton Cattle Dodge and the 00 of Rob Brent. There was contact and cars scrambled to avoid the melee. The race remained green and the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota crossed the start-finish line on the bumper of race winner, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
"We had an awesome car all weekend," said Speed following the race. "We misjudged the tires and had two flat tires during the race. To bounce back from that and still come in second is a great weekend. The team did a great job!"
When questioned about the final lap, Speed replied that "well, I definitely didn't make too many friends out there but that was definitely an epic end to the race. Period. To be honest it was very surprising to be able to catch the 99 as much as we did. I mean we must have caught him a second a lap for the last two laps. We needed one more lap and I think we would have passed him."
Speed jumped to third in the ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship point standings, only 100 points behind leader Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
Next Stop: Scott Speed and the Red Bull team travel to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan's Irish Hills for the Racing for Wildlife 200 on Friday, June 13th. The Racing for Wildlife 200 will be broadcast LIVE on SPEED beginning at 5:00 p.m. Arcaracing.com will feature live timing and scoring beginning at 5:15 p.m. on Friday. All times listed are EASTERN.